Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

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Total Reviews: 895

Bouquet Massai by Parfumerie Generale

A nice pink petals on brioche opening soon deflates to a mumblecore, vague summery floral after-shower splash scenario. A bit of tropical sultriness in the form of some more honeyed floral notes remains contained within the abiding fluff of its persona. Overall this has the demeanour of the willing-to-please work experience person whose name everyone keeps forgetting.
07th February, 2018

Aoud Jasmine by Montale

A disappointing plasticky opening where all the elements seem denatured and synthetic gives way to a fluffy abstract composition where all the elements still seem denatured and synthetic but no longer offensively so. So what was a bottom of the vat non-indolic jasmine aromachemical combined with completely chemical suggestions of greenish fruit – apples, pears as flavourings rather than as true versions of themselves – ultimately relaxes into something that’s friendlier on the nostrils. Pumped full of airy musks it wafts bright and casual in the manner of some summery fruity florals. It has a pleasing trail and a goofy grin on its face but doesn’t quite shed the budget associations of such things. As for the (a)oud – where? where? where? Did I blink and miss it?
What ultimately wore me down was the complete lack of texture of the thing once it has settled – it’s as uniform as high gloss paint and, as the hours go by (yes, it has the usual Montale persistence), just as boring.
07th February, 2018

Soie Rouge by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

A zesty, green and spicy carnation crossed with a juicy, pulpy fruit chord halfway between apricot and mango – it can seem like a floral puddle until the nose adjusts, but then I found the combo quite unusual, uplifting and refreshing. It has an old-fashioned soapy sweetness to it that may be off-putting to some, but look past that and this is a fruity floral with a gutsiness missing from much of this family, courtesy mainly of the carnation which comes intact with a bit of pepper and clove prickle.
07th February, 2018
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Rrose Sèlavy by Maria Candida Gentile

Having given us the innocent decadence of Sideris, a personal favourite rose perfume that seems purifying and sumptuous at once, I sit up and take notice anytime Gentile goes near a rose. Rrose Sèlavy is as playful as its Dadaist cross-dressing inspiration, coming across as a giant rose bush stage decoration, the real presented as artifice, untidy and yet framed.
The rosy notes here are sappy and undulating – no particular type of rose seems to be highlighted, rather all kinds of rosy accents from darker velvety tones to almost watery pink ones bustle about. They are set in a nimbus of twigs, leaves, dry hay and windblown fronds of anise which seems to expand with time. But there are also backstage scents of face powder and skin musk lurking here, weaving in and out of perception.
While the perfume has undoubted presence, its character is of a light, skipping being with a mission to meld the categories of nature and artifice and not be too fastidious about it.
07th February, 2018

Monsieur by Huitième Art

Sleek and swift, this Monsieur has one simple goal it seems – to offer a polished sweet cedar scent for our times. Synthetic woody aromachemicals are of course a given in such a scenario, but this single-minded creation does deliver on a welcoming woody scent, all warm hairy chest and tender embrace, with a sympathetic supporting cast of smoke, resins, even oudy overtones playing with the essential friendly good nature of the cedar. Executed with finesse, it seems to adjust to the wearer’s skin, creating a tailored layer of honest woody goodness, which is fulfilling when one pays attention to it and unobtrusive when going about one’s business. ‘Let be’ and ‘be well’, it seems to say – important messages, especially for frantic urbanites. A light spiciness – hints of saffron and black pepper – emerges in the late stages.
The trail it leaves is annoyingly less accomplished – much more obviously synthetic than what the wearer experiences for themselves.
07th February, 2018

Eau d'Épices by Tauer

Eau d’Épices seems to have come and gone rather quickly – at least I presume it’s gone as it is no longer listed for sale on the Tauer site. It’s a bit contrary to the expectations raised by its name as the spices seem covered by a cooling, starchy layer of orris-violet waxiness. These are not warming spices, they feel distant, locked up and a bit old. What does burst into life is a juicy orange blossom, redolent of high summer and light. And, indeed, in Eau d’Épices’s trail this is what others will smell, something golden and floral, a bit clean and soapy, with an accent of amber. This is an appealing olfactory halo to carry around, though the experience on skin is not as transparent.
The spices and a touch of seaside skin courtesy of the ambergris give the feel of a Caron-like base, which should glow like a hearth from the core of this perfume, but there seems also to be a constant damping down of it that ages the scent profile somewhat. It sits a bit uneasily with the florals and is bridged somewhat by some incense smoke and shavings of dry wood bark.
At which point this reviewer was guilty of staring at the pixels and ignoring the picture, because if one stops analyzing the architecture, real or imagined, one is in the presence of a breezy, orange blossom-led perfume, with a good presence and a burble of complexity in the background to keep things interesting but lighter than most Tauer creations. That, actually, is more than enough.
07th February, 2018

Cuir Altesse by David Jourquin

Such a generous and inviting leather and patchouli combo – and I say that without arched brow either, despite my not caring for either of those notes being upfront in perfumery. But Cuir Altesse is something different – I spray it on a few times and then think, ‘Maybe one or two more.’ Any perfume that’s doing that is doing something right.
Here it seems to be the harmonious boozy sweetness that permeates the creation mellowing out both leather and patchouli, and putting one in a lazy, winter afternoon before the fire state of mind. No doubt this mood is enhanced by dark and fudgy vanilla and tonka, and refined spices, but the overall effect is expansive and embracing, not sticky and cloying. Attention-getting and yet not overbearing, this has hostess with the mostest written all over it.
07th February, 2018

Mon Seul Désir by Jul et Mad

Sheer leather, full of airy musk, with orangey citrus at the top and smooth woody-floral notes with coriander seed at their centre. Air-brushed and attractive, but a bit short on projection. This is a cool, chic take on leather, almost an anti-leather in its chiffon-like feel. I would have been wowed had its presence been a bit more marked.

13th January, 2018

Midnight Datura by Parfums Quartana

Mega-sweetened off-white floral, a kind of Turkish Delight for the nose, although the olfactory impression is closer to bubble gum. Midnight Datura seems to share the same sickly, overfed DNA as some of the more ‘blossom’ oriented recent Amouages, the opulence of the notes somehow achieving little more than a syrupy puddle. An earth and mushrooms dimension in the later stages is somehow less interesting than it sounds.
13th January, 2018

Jãbir by Al Kimiya

Floral ferment! Jabir is a kind of perfumery miso – clears the brain and feeds the jaded nose. It offers a riot of fresh florals with the open, citrusy-sweet overtures of freesia in the lead but also shades of dewy peony and the more persistent presence of lily of the valley, alongside the more traditional sweeter rosy tones, and funks them up with a sourish, curdled, runny cheese like oud. Guess what? The combination is striking, quirky, and perks one up – and reminiscent of the bouquet from a chilled glass of good late harvest Tokaji wine.
Jabir has a strong dose of vague musks – the kind much favoured by the likes of Montale – that create an almost hairspray haze extending the reach and diffusion of the perfume. This can have the unfortunate effect of blearing the whole composition, and that is somewhat the case here – but when the blend has such an effervescence it doesn’t bother me. Side effect of Jabir – makes one itch for a party to go to, it has that kind of ‘wa-hey!’ energy.
(Yup, that price tag is ridiculous – a case of the hangover preceding the party.)
The later stages are more conventional, with Jabir turning into a woody rose in the Arabian style, which is also fine, but for a good four or five hours it is much, much more.
13th January, 2018

Invasion Barbare / SB by MDCI

What a smoothie! The woody-spicy cliché mates with the lavender-heavy barbershop fougère and – wonder of wonders – no-one’s honour is lost. When playing to such broad audiences with thousands of perfumes riffing on a similar mix of ingredients, it is largely the finish of the thing rather than any claim to originality that matters. So when Invasion Barbare steps out the door with every hair in place and each fleck dusted off its clothes, it means the care that has gone into polishing it is exemplary. This thing is the baby’s (hygienic) bottie.
The cool, sweetly-cooing, sprinkled with talc, lavender fougère half (shades of Rive Gauche) is matched seamlessly with oriental warmth – ginger, that gives a spice accent but with zest, and woods. The other harmonizing notes – a subtle citric fringe, soapy cardamom and gently bracing violet greens – also contribute to the immaculate maquillage.
While I admire the skill, I find the creature Invasion Barbare summons to my mind is boardroom man, a being with whom I share no affinity. I also find the lavender a touch too sweet for my taste – I often do. And the projection is moderate. This will sound like perfection to many – however, it makes me long for a touch of recklessness.
13th January, 2018

Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge by Bulgari

Sharp, ‘aquatic’ tea with a twist of lime and green fig that smells like those overly synthetic hand wash aromas that drive one to wash again with something else just to get the darn stuff off. Sure, it’s cool and summery, but regrettably on the cheap.
13th January, 2018

Cuir Tabac by David Jourquin

Well-turned out patchouli and cured tobacco jobbie with only a small role for a bit of aged leather. Will prompt all the usual cliché’s of gentlemen’s clubs and aristrocrats’ libraries – reader, pray use your own fantasy, mine is a bit exhausted in this particular area. Of most note is the surprisingly bright aroma profile (judiciously used lavender), that the patchouli is quite juicy with almost fruity nuances, rather than Darth Vader’s armpit (which it sometimes can be), and there’s a feel of vanilla and furry musk lying beneath it all.
Smart and outgoing, and quite reminiscent of many square-jawed designer ‘masculines’ in similar territory, so think twice before paying the extortionate price.
13th January, 2018
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Cape Heartache by Imaginary Authors

Fire and ice. The chilly greens and clear mountain air feel of conifers combined with wood smoke and the resinous warmth of pine sap demonstrate that this is a trick worth pulling. Recommended for winter with its core of heat and frost-touched crust. Over time an odd player emerges – first, just a juicy sweetness, then something that resembles a candied strawberry. Perceptions of this note weave in and out of the largely coniferous feel of the rest – it should be out of place but somehow isn’t. Like a successful cocktail made of ingredients that nobody thought of mixing together before.
I shouldn’t sing its praises too highly, as it remains a pine dominant scent and if that doesn’t appeal to you, then you’re unlikely to be won over.
13th January, 2018

Alahine by Téo Cabanel

Old school creamy balsamic amber with such smoothness one expects it to moisturize one’s skin. Resins provide warmth and a heartbeat, but don’t mess with the overall silkiness. Floral aspects are veiled and gauzy. And in the base there’s a small nod to power – something that smells of worn leather and crumbled wood lurks within.
All in all this is a supremely easy wear, it slips on like a flowing robe, suggestive of effortless if not inexpensive chic in a bygone style. However, when it settles it also deflates and one realizes that all the emphasis on smoothness results in a flattening out – the vanillic notes in Alahine perhaps drape the thing a bit too much so that contours are lost, and a sweet orangey opoponax-like feel (I’m thinking of Les Néréides’ Opoponax) makes it all seem a bit mono.
13th January, 2018

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

The most unusual rose of 2017 and one that really rings my bell – tingaling-lingling. This is the full joss stick experience, an amazingly smoky and cindery rose perfume that is also packed full of the creamy woods and musky freshness that form the odour profile of Indian agarbathis. The patchouli here has an expansive almost mentholated embrace and the whole experience is halfway between the flowers and smouldering joss sticks laid at a shrine and the silky languor of an old faithful’s boudoir. It pricks the senses and relaxes in equal measure.
I can imagine this may be somewhat polarizing, its scent leans so decidedly towards Indian notions of what makes a good fragrance, rather than a Western interpretation of the East. But for a deep, dusty and smoky rose backed with finely milled dark wood, Firedance is beautifully judged and just right. In the late stages the rose opens up and brushes the wearer with a damask softness.

24th December, 2017 (last edited: 28th December, 2017)

J'ai Fait Un Rêve Lui by Majda Bekkali

Strange opening that first reads like a back alley Montale – cleaning product lemon meets vague saffron spice and light woody-oudy notes. But it settles quickly into a sheer linden-like cloud backed by buffed woods and spice (the diffusive woody musky cashmeran playing a significant role). It has a proper presence while still seeming to be suspended and nebulous as a burst of aerosol. Coming to this now, I can see it is a clear precursor to Micallef’s similarly under-rated Akowa which wowed me with its originality. J’ai Fait is a bit less piercing and single-minded, and Akowa doesn’t have its subtle spice and faint suggestion of oud, but this is clearly where this short family line begins. Unusual and enchanting.
Now goes by the name J'ai Fait Un Rêve Obscur.
24th December, 2017

Santal Tislit by Maison Incens

It’s interesting what passes for sandalwood these days. In this case it is a measly deposit of slightly sweetish wood shavings with a few puffs of heliotrope-scented hairspray. The chief failing of Santal Tislit, however, is its utterly pants projection. Some perfumes one can wear and forget, but few actively solicit such forgetting as this does, as, despite liberal spraying, you are unlikely to smell very much at all.
24th December, 2017

La Belle Hélène by MDCI

La Belle Hélène works with an old-fashioned, slightly dowdy, powdery floral base and gives it a lighter, enlivening twist with fresher notes of linden and pear. The latter cannot escape a synthetic destiny – indeed I have yet to come across a perfumery pear that doesn’t smell a bit plastic. Combine this with the lactones that that are standard issue with Bernard ‘Milky Veil’ Duchaufour and you have a perfume that plays incredibly safe, dressed in pastel pinks and mauves, but on the wrong day will irritate the hell out of you. For something that has its sights set so definitely on the comfort zone, it instead inspired existential ‘is that all there is?’ thoughts in this wearer.
24th December, 2017

Arabians by Montale

Puzzling over the name of this one. What next? Slovenians? Australians? But wait, there’s a horse on this bottle, so we are not exoticizing people after all. I expect Montale could go with Dachshund or Vietnamese Pot-bellied and turn it into a series.
The perfume itself – well, it is certainly mane-to-the-wind with a camphoraceous gale of ‘freshness’ blowing through it. The old Montale theme of a bright musk charged rose-patchouli-‘oud’ combo is here polished with traditionally refreshing and soapy notes of lavender and cardamom. This is a thoroughly sudsed horsie, if indeed a horsie it is at all – little hints of leather and a humid saltiness in a manner of ambergris notwithstanding.
Arabians falls into the bloated middle category of serviceable Montales – long-lasting, powerful, but by now riffing on over-familiar themes, so that they come across as a bit stolid to the experienced user. Newbies may still go ‘oh baby, wow!’ at the power-surge delivery of the notes. Old hands will wonder if they need to resort to the Dewey Decimal System to mentally organize yet another offering that seems to be but a tweak to pre-existing landmark perfumes (in this case a breezier version of Black Aoud).
24th December, 2017

Hemlock by Parfums Quartana

Hemlock conjures the rather unique olfactory terrain of weed sap – greenish, somewhat lactonic, with an undertow of dustiness that I associate with pesticides. After an opening bright with bergamot and light, almost rain-soaked, green notes, a very dry and almost rubbery vanilla emerges supported by a cast of desiccated spice and resins. It has a powder puff quality to it, with traces of the skin such a thing touches, while the lingering greens have now turned a bit waxy, darker and brittle. How all this signifies weed sap, beats me; maybe I am being susceptible to its name.
A tempting oddity, if a tad demure. However, all the fun of this perfume is in the first couple of hours, after which it settles into a too-soft spicy vanilla.
24th December, 2017

Cedar by 1907

Revoltingly screechy floor-scouring aquatic in which the usual watery and melon notes are filtered through a mesh of industrial grade chemicals. A generous sprinkle of dry thyme catches in the throat and adds to the ghastliness. The olfactory equivalent of radio static.
20th November, 2017

Farnesiana by Caron

Farnesiana is like falling asleep in a warm room on a winter’s day and being visited by a loving presence in a dream. It is cosy, creamy and comforting – its complex layers falling like a halo of warm orange-amber light around the wearer. Despite the impression of a multitude of notes surging within it, it feels trusted and instantly familiar.
After a beautifully pliant and doughy-buttery opening marked by a gentle and ambery vanilla and sweet hay-like tones, the florals begin to breathe little by little – wisps of mimosa and syringa, the sweet haze of violets, all treated with restraint and respect, and with the assurance of a complex Caron base (think refined resins and powders) to back them up. This is perfume that feels like a silken foam, full of air and light, and yet luxurious and caressing.
Farnesiana has a palpable warmth to it. These are spring flowers miraculously transported to what feels almost like a Christmas interior gently fragrant with potpourri and candied fruit, and they feel perfectly at home.
Sometimes I am tempted to give up other perfumes in winter and subsist solely on Caron extraits; they feel like old friends you want to hug and hold close, and yet they always give you your space.
Review is for current extrait formulation and there is a big catch – Farnesiana disappointingly cycles through its stages to the muted base in just a couple of hours. Still, glorious for that short while.

20th November, 2017

Pluie de Soleil / Burst of Summer by Phaedon

A perfectly decent light-yet-honeyed freesia let down by gumdrop fruitiness. If the fruity end had held its own, we would be talking but it’s just too vague and drenched in syrup. Sadly not a tropical fantasy in the design style – you know, all sunburst flowers, slices of yellow pineapple, citrus and what have you, juice droplets spraying in artistic arcs. That’s the illustrator’s version; the real tropics being beastly hot, with sweat, humidity and decay just as evident in their odourama as heady blossoms and overripe fruit.
If I could get that freesia accord on its own I’d be tempted to spend much more time with it. But as this heads off into total fruit-sludge ignominy after a couple of hours, there’s really no redemption.
20th November, 2017

Chocolat by Il Profumo

I first came across this on a visit to a perfumery where the owner regards me as a kindred spirit. She indulges me by spraying all the new releases on blotters and then we chat about them – it feels like going to a perfume event catering just for me. In between, other shoppers come and go – they are usually after something specific, and while the owner deals with them, I tend to browse further. So, in walks this couple, and the woman was craving her Il Profvmo Chocolat which she had once bought on holiday and which had become her signature ever since. A blotter was sprayed just to relive the ‘ooh ahh’ of her fondness and to my surprise, standing a few feet away, this wave of dark and enticing chocolate of undeniable quality curled up to my nostrils.
What wasn’t evident then was that this chocolate was a bonbon, containing a soft centre full of plummy fruit, delicate spice (nutmeg) and jammy florals – sheer indulgence. People have spoken of this perfume as Angel plus chocolate – possibly, but without the obnoxious pushiness that such a thing may have. The other perfume it vaguely recalls is the delicately erotic Missoni which is, alas, no more, in which a bone dry cocoa note is played off against gorgeous orange and a feather-light woodsy backdrop. Again, apart from differences in the scent profile, there is also a difference in degree here – Missoni is a marvel of dynamism, of playing off dark against light; Chocolat, on the other hand, seems to gather all its treats into the same comfortable mid-range.
Nonetheless, it is pure pleasure, and when in the later stages the cocoa fades a bit, the underlying fulsome fruity floral comes into view but with the compensation of dusky woody and vanilla notes preventing the whole thing from doing a Disney. Then there is a further surprise in the late drydown which reveals a sophisticated and gauzy mixed floral – it is as if with each layer that falls from this offering, it remains fully realized and beautiful, with comfortable projection.
20th November, 2017

Oud Stars : Alexandria by Xerjoff

Note: this review is for the current version which goes under the name of Alexandria II, not the 2012 release which was a limited edition.

Putting the bomb into bombast, Alexandria II’s opening is so loud and diffusive it will make you want to sit down and rest your punched hooter. Here are hugely diffusive musked-up florals – soapy rose amplified to a flood of suds and fresh lavender of a solar brightness –, a storm cloud of cinnamon, a stream of treacly amber, all backed by smooth, powdery woods. While other Oud Star offerings have a similar will to power – any more than one spray of Gao and you’re harming the environment – this has a decked-out, blinged-up, look at me character to it which is frank, OTT and not for snobs.
Alexandria’s smile reveals two rows of gold caps and wafts a month’s supply of mouth freshener. The essence of this perfume in its first few hours is its turbo-charged lavender played off against an almost toxic dose of cinnamon, a battle royale conducted under layers and layers of transparent laundry musks so thick, they are panes of ice.
However, once this phase is passed, Alexandria goes the way of Atlantis – major subsidence. The whole thing deflates, projection drops and now what emerges is a dry and spicy take on oud that one can encounter in almost every budget-friendly Arabic or Middle East-oriented house’s offerings. Not special – we wuz robbed.
20th November, 2017

1270 by Frapin

A fruity woody that could have been a contender, except for its somewhat hesitant character. After a delicious, juicy, pineapple dominated opening, 1270 settles into a pleasing mix of sweet fruity notes with a bit of warming ginger and a musked woods backdrop. Slight developments of interest are dusky cocoa shadings and hints of tobacco and leather – all kept unobtrusive, functioning as gentle support.
Still, there is a lacklustre quality about the proceedings and a default ambery setting which drags this into pretty generic territory when it could have been so much more.
20th November, 2017

Wolfsbane by Parfums Quartana

Unusual in a very well turned out manner – not fizzbang and screaming rockets but tailored to fit, almost discreet, and yet resolutely unusual.
Wolfsbane turns on an axis of great promising fattiness – at its heart is a dense accord that is alive with impressions but whose ‘feel’ is like orris butter, beeswax and finely milled coconut fat, giving a rich, unctuous, bound-to-be-good-for-your skin impression. Within lurk nuances of earthiness, humidity and a strange kind of herbal greenness, signifying plant origins without the usual fresh or sharp elements. This is a nocturnal greenery, shade upon shade of dark, veiled green, but without any gothic heavy-handedness.
In time the main note around which Wolfsbane slowly revolves comes more clearly into view – a sultry, waxy and even somewhat rubbery tuberose, placed bang in the centre from which a profusion of other directions seem to be followed. The resinoid vanillic accent of benzoin further congeals its thick blood. This is a perfume of slow motion and hidden sorcery; dense as fog but surprisingly easy on the wearer.
Many hours in much of the novelty is departed and Wolfsbane joins the ranks of warm and creamy tuberose perfumes.
20th November, 2017

Poudre de Riz by Huitième Art

I’ll take powder, yes please, great clouds of it, no problem. Old make up? Sometimes it too can float my boat, if well-executed. But hairspray? That usually doesn’t do it for me, bar the occasional gem like Tocade. Maybe it’s the acetone tendency that perfumes going down that route display.
Fortunately, Poudre de Riz’s off-putting hair varnish opening dissipates pretty quickly , yet the promised powder doesn’t materialize. Instead delicate, honeyed florals reveal themselves – a coochiecoo rose and little dabs of white floral something or other. Served on a cushion of musked-up honky tonka and vanilla. It’s subtle and sweet and won’t scare any horses – and by that same token a bit of a yawn. A shame, mainly due to its execution in pastels. Because there’s something right about this composition that gets me thinking that a gutsier approach to the same elements could have yielded stunning results.

03rd November, 2017

Palo Santo by Carner Barcelona

From melting toffee to sweet and salted wood, Palo Santo is a strange one, but it’s a familiar kind of strangeness. The odour profile from start to finish is dense and buttery, but as the projection is a bit tentative, it doesn’t overwhelm. This toffee-impregnated woody with slightly boozy breath has a kind of maple syrup and bacon meatiness about it which is perhaps aiming to achieve an olfactory umami sensation. If Jeux de Peau rocked your boat, then this may also be worth your while.
03rd November, 2017