Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

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Total Reviews: 805

Full Incense by Montale

Full spectrum incense with plenty of terpenic lift evoking the great piny outdoors in the opening stages. Curiously this benefits from overdosing – wear a spray too many and you are immersed in its sacramental cloud, be stingy with it and it seems thin, whiny and synthetic. The balance of citrusy treble notes (the elemi) with powdery, dusty woody sonorities rounds out the resinous and lightly smoky incense at its centre. If its churchy appeal makes me feel like sashaying in brocaded robes and chanting for the first hour or two, I must admit it becomes much of a muchness beyond that and I’m inclined to cover it up with something a bit more varied.
Needless to say, only go there if a single-minded incense perfume is what you are after. All other expectations will be dashed.
20th May, 2017

Rue des Lilas by Phaedon

Yes, I think I passed that street – the lilacs were in bloom, the air and soil were dry, a gentle breeze carried their scents. As with many lilac recreations there is a supporting lily of the valley note that wafts in and out of one’s perception and stays for the course. In keeping this composition delicate and airy as opposed to the heady narcotic route that is also possible with such florals, Pierre Guillaume conjures a reverie. There’s a pleasing simplicity to Rue des Lilas, it’s soft yet persistent, with the only evolution being traces of the powdery musk in the declared notes becoming more evident with the passage of time. It’s the kind of perfume that I can enjoy for a few hours rather than a whole day – by then I start feeling a bit trapped on that street.
20th May, 2017

Midnight Rose by Amouroud

A rose like a plush, mile-deep sofa, this is one to sink into. The note differentiation is pants and yet this perfume is appealing as a gourmand rose if you like that kind of thing. The main rose note is dense and in the Middle Eastern attar vein, with the candied honey base so common to many sweet gourmands and a seam of tart jelly-like fruitiness plumping it out (guided by the notes list one might concede this is litchi, but I doubt that conclusion would be evident if one were to test this blind). It’s all very rose jam and Turkish delight, probably nightmarishly so for some. But I find it succeeds as a whole (because this sure ain’t a perfume of parts) where many such attempts just turn into syrupy slop. Maybe it’s the well deployed sour-sweet fruitness, but I find Midnight Rose lets me indulge my sweet tooth without discomfort.
Curiously however, projection drops dramatically after a couple of hours. This is a shame because perfumes in this manner need to have built-in oomph to succeed, their drama can’t play out in murmurs.
20th May, 2017
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Amazing Mukhallath by Al Haramain

An energizing vetiver that opens with the characteristic bracing and fresh sweetness of a fougère. The scents of conifers and tonic juniper blend with subtly employed cardamom. I’ll be damned if there isn’t a quantity of bright lavender in the mix as well, although it is missing from the notes list. Well, with such bedfellows, it’s no surprise that the vetiver used here is pretty clean – none of the dank and earthy tones that I normally love – but it works perfectly.
I find the resins and incense low key; this is a joyously refreshing affair, like a swim in a chilly lake by a forest of spruce and pine. Perhaps this is standard ‘masculine’ territory, but there’s genuine panache here and that should be celebrated.
20th May, 2017

Alhada by Tola

I had been looking out for Alhada as it is a woody floral (my favourite kind of perfume) centred on the Taif rose. The opening moments looked like I was heading for a disappointment with a hairspray rose in the style of some of Montale’s dodgier offerings leading the charge. The only glimmer of light seemed to be a realistic marigold note – except that the scent of this blossom isn’t particularly bewitching.
But as I have learned with Tola, it pays to wait, as the perfumes usually take a while to settle. And sure enough the fumes that smelled of propellant dissipated (I think the lavender played a big part in creating that impression), and a rich and confident attar-style rose unfurled laid upon a bed of dark tonka and vanilla, and satisfyingly musty wood. It is profoundly sweet and yet escapes the syrup trap, through the bitter accents provided by the wood notes and a touch of saffron in the heart. It is one of Tola’s less unusual, more straightforward creations in that it seems to fit a particular Arabian style of roses (it is part of a collection called ‘Heritage’). My beef with it is that the deep drydown which is still plush with roses is no better than other offerings in this style. Not quite the knockout to justify Tola prices.
20th May, 2017

Paname Paname by Technique Indiscrete

The cumin route leads inevitably to well-sweated body odour, so it’s a brave (or foolish) perfumer who knowingly goes down it. Libertin Louison’s aim seems to be to bring some of the gravitas of animalic chypres of days past into a present where they can be somewhat unwelcome. This requires a tricky balancing act between, on the one hand, the grunting cumin and the unsmiling mossy accents which form the rather dour core of this perfume (‘take me seriously’ they seem to jointly hiss) and, on the other, the cooler fresher elements – some airy citrus, floating almost aquatic white florals, a note that is a cross between doughy iris and something fruity (the ‘apple cake’ of the declared notes?) and clean, somewhat powdery, musk. This creates a tension that could sustain the interest of the perfume lover, though a significant other may be inclined to single out the cumin and tell one to go wash. Eventually things resolve to an underweight Guerlinade with armpit issues.
An ‘almost works’ kind of perfume, a curiosity that brings a convincing vintage element to the table but lacks something to wow at the fresher end of its profile.

10th May, 2017

Mukhallath Seufi by Al Haramain

Tender, deep sweet rose given a blast of jet fuel by a supari blend of freshening ingredients and discreet spices. The concentration of this oil gives the impression of huge complexity as evinced by some gargantuan reviews on the net, but the main event is a woody rose with an attar density but with plenty of fresh lift as well. Reminiscent of quite a few rosy Montales, except the polish and sheen on this one is a few notches up.
10th May, 2017

N'Aimez Que Moi by Caron

At first the whump of the hefty Caron base (deep, powdery-resinous) masks the floating quality of N’Aimez que Moi. Then there is the ferocity of clove and something like the brambly undergrowth from Malle’s Une Rose that also make it appear to be more of a drama queen than it is.
But wait a short while and the rose, liquered, a bit musty but also powdery soft, wafts its magic gathered in clumps of cloudy violets and lilac. A touch of fatty, waxy orris gives it a discreet sheen. I find violets often give perfumes a watercolour, daydream-like quality – perhaps it’s because their scent seems so borderless and diffuse – and that is certainly the case here. Later the base re-emerges, but gently, a pillow to lean back on, giving the florals a touch of earth.
If you have a tendency to dismiss this kind of perfume as old-fashioned and fusty, then N’Aimez que Moi will do nothing to change it. For the rest of us, it is a quiet pleasure, rich yet restrained about it.

Review is for the current EDP formulation.

10th May, 2017

Cuir Garamante by MDCI

Roses in the dustbowl. The curious interaction of the smoky, dusty, pepper-infused cypriol with quite juicy roses is a bit of a headscratcher but, hey, I’ll settle for it as it seems to have some purpose. That purpose being a seriously rich and spicy rose perfume (the cuir of the name is a bit player really – just a touch of dirt around the edges), complete with Montale-like oud as support. So far so satisfying, but why anyone would part with serious bucks for this remains the question when so many more affordable niche lines are also doing this kind of thing to say nothing of the Arabic cheapies that got there first. Good for its angularity and drama – less good for its rather polite way of expressing them.
10th May, 2017

Ombre Rubis by Jean-Charles Brosseau

A shaded pool-side fantasia where synthetic white florals meet glacial aquatics to take a lick at a coconut popsicle. Pale greens at the top are a nice touch but don’t last. Wan and yet strong at the same time as is the tendency of many aquatics. This one could annoy the hell out of you after a while, but the basic composition is pleasing enough if as fake as a Munchkin’s tan.
10th May, 2017

Agaressence by Brécourt

In the perfumery isles of my mind this belongs on the dreaded rack with pale pink liquids in pink bottles. It’s syrupy, it’s generic, it’s vaguely synthetic fruity with hints of acetone around the edges, it’s Barbie with a migraine. Like many such things it’s also stubbornly mono, lacking almost any kind of definition – glue in the nose. And they decided to call it Agaressence – go figure
10th May, 2017

Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

Should probably have been called Pauvre Petite as this shiveringly unimaginative thing seems to have been designed to languish in a corner at the ball. A vapourously musky vague pinky floral with fruity accents at the start that feels utterly generic. The two points of interest are a cool and refreshing citric lift at the top and a rubber-smooches-Play-Doh vanilla-tonka combo in the base. It has a smoothness of execution from start to finish that suggests a surer touch behind the generic front. However, one cannot escape the conclusion that by the drydown this kind of thing turns the wearer into an ambulant marshmallow.
Perhaps I’m being unkind and there will likely be those who will love its delicacy, for it is light and soft like a powder puff and would probably function well as a casual everyday kind of scent. But I can’t really see a space for such enervated offerings in my perfumed life.
27th April, 2017 (last edited: 28th April, 2017)

Ambra by Lorenzo Villoresi

A spicy amber with a big dose of warming myrrh and a freshening terpenic quality. Suffers at the beginning from being over-polished. The blend seems a touch too smooth, giving the feel of either aldehydes or soap. A bit like looking at the thing through milk-bottle lenses whereas something a bit more rough or daring would have made the composition come alive.
However, it sheds this quality as time passes and the perfume begins to come alive on one’s skin. Now it is a sophisticated (but not over-blended) and mellow amber, the characteristic sweetness of the family held nicely in check by the spices and resins.
27th April, 2017
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Cuir Erindil by Maison Incens

Leather and lipstick – but not as glam-vamp as that sounds. Cuir Erindil has a waxy, fatty, almost rubbery iris at its heart, which, with able support from a non-foody vanilla, immediately makes lipsticks of a certain vintage come to mind. The leather may open tannery strong but soon subsides to the usual suede-like avatar that is usually paired with iris.
The experience of this perfume is like being in a foggy, off-white environment – all the buffed tones seem to overlap and shift ever so slightly. One can close one’s eyes and let go.
Uber chic or a bit monochrome? That may be the question that arises in some wearers’ minds. For me, Cuir Erindil is a calming daydream of a perfume.
27th April, 2017

Exultat by Maria Candida Gentile

Some of Maria Candida Gentile’s perfumes act a bit like exhalations in the way they rise from one’s skin. They are almost powdery, but not quite – the feeling is more like steam gently dispersing or mist, soft and enveloping. It’s the feel of the thing that impresses you first – and so it is with Exultat.
The main theme is of a traditionally sweet, candied violet bouquet matched with a rather sharp incense that is quite salty (maybe the cedar and vetiver in the base making their presence felt) and even has a spicy fenugreek-like aspect to it. It’s the cloud-like billow of Exultat that makes these two main elements play with each other rather than fight, the violets dreamy and childlike, the incense bringing energy (even a sense of physical labour) and determination. Even though the incense is backed up by woods and vetiver it doesn’t gain the upper hand on the fairytale violets. As an intellectual problem this notion of matching something steely with something woody is appealing – all credit to Gentile that the appeal also translates as a sensory experience.
27th April, 2017

Eau des Merveilles Bleue by Hermès

A fizzy, dispersive start to this ozonic aquatic, tinged with salt and a cool, pebble-like, mineral quality. The suggestion of marine vistas is immediate, but it remains a suggestion – the reality is more like mouth wash and faux cucumber in the bathing pool of Marine World or a strip-lit blank white office space that has undergone an industrial clean in the not too distant past. I struggle to appreciate perfumes like these though I admire their understated persistence. I imagine it may just hit the spot for a hot summer’s day for fans of aquatics.
27th April, 2017

Montecristo by Masque

Dirty old leather paired with zingy aromatic herbals, Montecristo is a butch little number that is firmly in the territory of some of the more square-jawed mainstream ‘masculines’ but with the more extreme elements cranked up a little to establish niche credentials. The backing is firmly trad for this kind of perfume – a woody, ambery, spicy richness familiar to the more hirsute Orientals. The throw is much fresher, quite green and herbal – which is only part of what the wearer themselves will perceive. A fine, well-balanced example of its kind, but I’m not terribly interested in what it has to say.
10th April, 2017

Grand Siècle Intense 7.1 by Parfumerie Generale

Hello there, juicy lemon, has that bad boy Pierre Guillaume been eyeing you up? Shame he couldn’t make you misbehave – still, who needs vice when you’ve got freshness?
GSI has sturdy underpinnings to give a citrus cologne body – patchouli and vetiver – but it’s all about being tart and fresh, more acid than zest. In this it comes across as somewhat single-minded, when it could have benefited from opening up and embracing a bit more variety. The grassy notes don’t really count as they remain timid.
10th April, 2017

Eau de Nyonya by Auphorie

This incredible rich and smoky gourmand that smells like nothing else is further evidence that the Au brothers are perfumers to watch. A first meeting with Eau de Nyonya is almost a shock: the senses reel with the unctuous smell unfolding which is like a thick and creamy rice-based pudding being cooked over an open fire with the rich caramel, toffee and burnt notes that come from the scraping of sticky bits from the pan flooding the olfactory pleasure spots. It prompted involuntary salivation.
The overriding, slightly burnt toffee-like note burnishes many of the elements – the lovely scent of heated freshly-made coconut milk (which is quite different to most perfumery coconut notes), creamy and toasted rice, palm sugar. The floral bouquet of the perfume is hidden behind the gourmand notes – one can sense it’s there but not really define it. Which leads me to wonder what function it performs. Not that it matters much in a perfume of such satiating richness and astonishing originality.
The indulgent sweetness of some gourmands can make one weary – here it is centred by the smokiness, the bitter burnt tones and a waxy, salty ambergris construct that really makes the whole thing shine. Interestingly, during the course of the wear Eau de Nyonya also takes on the ambience of a space where such a tempting dessert may have been prepared – a hall of old timbers and dark high ceilings. A fairly linear scent, the evolution is towards a settling of the notes so that the gourmand intensity subsides somewhat – a good thing – and the smoke fades, leaving a mellow toasted feel instead.
Something with such a strong personality is definitely not for everyone and probably only suitable for occasional use, but it remains arresting.

Eau de Nyonya requires a good shake before spraying. Droplets of something dark separate from the remaining liquid when it rests – a shake disperses them again.

10th April, 2017

Amour de Palazzo by Jul et Mad

Amour de Palazzo has a wonderful enveloping feel – it rises effortlessly from the wearer’s skin and get airborne, it seems bursting with impressions and accents, and fresh powders. That kind of classy finish deserves notice, no matter what the perfume smells like. But the smell doesn’t disappoint and is remarkably complete – one can’t imagine taking away or adding anything to it.
For a sweet ambery leather, I am surprised how much I like it – it has to be that burst of confidence about its entirety and its diffusive nature that does it. There’s nothing heavy about this perfume – not the spices, not the amber, not the oudy accents in the mid-phase – it’s all about soothing balsamic radiance. And with a well-judged cedar note in the mix soaking up all the sweetness and making it its own, there’s also a natural unforced quality about it. One of those wear-and-go perfumes that one doesn’t have to think too much about and which would suit almost any kind of day.
10th April, 2017

Fraîche Passiflore by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

The decadence of tropical fruit is not just in the mouth-whacking intensity of flavour that can make cousins from cooler climes seem dilute by comparison, but also an almost ‘off’ note in many varieties that suggests the thing is verging on over-ripeness. Fraîche Passiflore, which comes cloaked with a peachy mist that soon dissipates, majors on passion fruit but with a faithfully rendered offness that also suggests mango and guava. It has the tang and tartness of the fruit thus rescuing it from the anonymity of gumdrop renditions. A backing accord reminiscent of budget green tea spritzers detracts from the overall effect in the heart phase but then fades. The end is in a gently floral-musky murmur. Still, something refreshing for the summer and nice enough if one wears it without paying it too much attention.
02nd April, 2017

Gold I by AJ Arabia

There’s a kind of feculent oud profile that occupies the dubious border territory where runny cheese overlaps with diarrhoea. Why do people wear such stuff? Well, mainly because it does not literally smell of those things; like them, yes, but in the manner that a good horror film allows one to tingle with shock without suffering spirit possession or torture oneself. And also because such complex ouds usually resolve into even more intriguing things like tannery leather notes, boozy wooziness, sweetly rotting woods from the dawn of time…
This would have been quite a daring perfume in the AJ Arabia line what with its mucky oud. But bizarrely the whole thing is treated in a light and dispersive manner wrapped in pinky musks and skinny white florals. So when one has made peace with the initial jolt of the oud construct here, one almost immediately regrets it hadn’t been treated with more guts. When the evolution towards leather begins after about the first 15 minutes, the whole thing gets softer than a meringue in a steam room which is a woeful fate indeed for an oud of such decadent promise. Dives to a simple musky skin scent beyond the two hour mark.
02nd April, 2017

Cuir Blanc by Evody

If noir is bold, deep and rich, what is blanc? Light, fluffy and non-offensive?
Cuir Blanc wears its blancness without a care. It’s the softest of leathers expanded with chewy marshmallow and talcum powder musks, featureless and dozy but also comforting in a mindless kind of way.
Its simplicity is a bit double-edged: is it aspiring to a longed for purity or is it just plain? I rather suspect the answer will depend upon whether the wearer is craving a return to something basic and unchallenging or not.
02nd April, 2017

ManRose by Etro

Pity the uninspired grunts who came up with what has to be one of the most unfortunate names for a perfume. Luckily the thing itself is a sprightly little number even if not making any perceptible bid for originality.
This is an aerial rose tinged with citrus and greens at the start giving it almost a fougère like feel but which eventually settles on a bed of clean vetiver and soft cardamom. The rose note has the characteristic brightness that comes from a pairing with geranium which darkens ever so slightly in the later stages when a dab of patchouli becomes evident. Completely pleasant and eminently wearable, but firmly middle-of-the-road – ManRose makes not the slightest effort to do something different and thus smells pretty familiar from the get go. Perfumery is full of wheels being reinvented and this is one, but it rolls just fine.
02nd April, 2017

Pardon by Nasomatto

I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to chocolate, preferring milk to dark. But when it comes to the smell of the thing – give me bitter and back-of-the-throat any day. (If only bitter chocolate tasted as good as it smells – I know, I know, for some of you it does…) So, the most satisfying thing about Pardon is the deep and enrobing chocolate accord that arises from sprayed skin, made more sophisticated by an artfully blended-in dose of cinnamon and what my nose perceives (but the notes list doesn’t mention) as herbal energy. It makes one feel like an instant connoisseur rather than a greedy guts. Despite deploying gourmand notes, the overall mood of this perfume is not of indulgence but of dynamism and refinement. I think it would make just the right impression in a boardroom setting – but this is fantasy on my part never having set foot in such an environment.
Over time the spicier and woodier side of Pardon becomes more evident with an oud-like aspect emerging and an ambery tonka sweetness making itself felt – but always with the backdrop (or perhaps the memory?) of that palpating dark.
02nd April, 2017

Yuzu Ab Irato 09 by Parfumerie Generale

After the lingering cyborg horror of Azzaro’s Chrome, I am immediately suspicious of perfumes that come in a shade of Listerine blue. The similarity ends there as far as Yuzu Ab Irato is concerned; but this is still a by-numbers oddity. Odd in that it manages an ‘off’ accord of toothpaste mint and sink-cleaning citrus but in the usual wispy Parfumerie Generale style. The major let down is the drydown which smells like a dried herbs and resins concotion that some well-meaning quack might spread on one’s chest when ill, but which would only increase the suffering.
02nd April, 2017

Cuirs by Carner Barcelona

Unimaginative peppery dry woods offering in a vein that has become overfamiliar by now. Touched by the dry herbs and smoke of nagarmotha and dusted with some aged spice, none of which inch this towards greater likeability. A suggestion of candied orange sweetness at the start may have done the trick but it is soon lost.
Inert and badly in need of the electric shock of some other gutsy ingredient to play off against the dreary desiccated woods.
23rd March, 2017

L'Autre Oud by Lancôme

We are in such post-oud times that it is surprising and refreshing to come across an oud done in the old manner, before the craze hit and oud was still mainly the preserve of Arabic style perfumery. So, this is not an oud pulled and stretched by ‘novelty’ notes, but one that goes for richness and balance highlighting the warmth and deep resonance characteristic of this entrancing ingredient. This is about as l’autre as this oud gets – it says, I can still do that old thing with assurance and it’s still magic.
This is a lovely woody perfume of great depth, stuffed with accents – humid, nobly mouldy, earthy, gently boozy, spicy in the most refined sense, hints of smoke and leather – that perform in unison. What the nose encounters is an instantly recognizable and rounded perfume that is all about greeting rather than evasion.
As with such ouds, the classic accompanying notes are deployed completely at the service of its friendly woody character – the saffron seems to align with drier aspects of the woody theme, the red rose extends its darkness rather than jostling to be the main event, and the patchouli brings a touch of the wine cellar. Fine work by Christophe Reynaud who is behind a number of mainstream designer hits – here that crowd-pleasing tendency gives us an oud that is truly sumptuous.

23rd March, 2017

Angel's Dust by Francesca Bianchi

Angel’s Dust is unabashedly romantic. This is like being in the chamber of luurrve where there is nothing harsh, the senses are fanned with the sweetest, kindest airs and just when you thought things were getting a bit too much hearts-and-flowers in the Hallmark sense there’s a welling up of sensuality.
On the face of it this is a powdery, cosmetics-inspired creation. But that is just the barest outline within which beats a passion that many will want to embrace. The first impression is of a billowy floral bouquet, rose and mimosa done in a style that makes one feel like one is subsiding into a feather bed, with the powder of the mimosa further accentuated by iris. This boudoir effect is lit up by a plump, golden vanilla note. It’s rendered as an unabashedly gourmand accent giving body and further comfort. But if so far this bedroom of bliss seems to have been promising only fluffy dreams and restful sleep, a short while in the oriental foundations make themselves felt and the promise of something more awakens. A speck of black pepper in the opening had signalled this progression, but now we have warming balsamic notes and smooth and creamy sandalwood, and they are as welcome as the lover’s touch. Unobtrusively backing the whole thing from start to finish is a skin-like musk, keeping it in sympathy with the wearer.
For an hour or so Angel’s Dust feels like a minor masterpiece, but then two disappointing things happen. First the projection takes a dive, so it becomes just a little better than a skin scent with the consequent loss of detail that involves. Then a short while after that the florals lose much of their vibrancy, and now the distinction between Angel’s Dust and other perfumes of the powder compact type is much narrowed. A pity.

23rd March, 2017

Oudmazing by Montale

In which Montale finally give up on their usual attempts at oud constructs and go for a straightforward subdued woody backing instead. But the woooud is not the point here despite the name.
The notes in this one are all over the place – anyone who thinks there be figs here as the notes list declares needs to go smell figs. What we are given is a plump sugar-fed gourmand in the Angel-Sì tradition, which starts off with a bit of a chocolate rush but soon waddles into a swamp of fruit gloop and candy floss with burnt edges. A by-numbers sweet vanilla seems to ooze into any available olfactory space. A welcome undertone of something like roasted hazelnuts has its negative in a jarring acetone/citric note screeching at the fringes.
Matures to a rubbery-woody sweetness but this is still one of those experiences to which saying ‘No’ seems a positive thing.
23rd March, 2017