Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Advertisement

Arizona by Olympic Orchids

A decent entry into the rather small club of ‘dry forest’ perfumes, Arizona gives the wearer a wonderful opening blast of the great outdoors with the inviting scent of conifers – their green needles, their resins, their wax – and the twigs and parched earth of the forest floor.
This is a cologne strength offering (unlike most others in the Olympic Orchids line), so needs liberal application. Has an unsettling mid-phase where soapy lavender tries to tame something that deserves to remain wild and free. Fortunately it morphs into something more anisic that blows better in the breeze.
Uncomplicated, perhaps simple, but satisfying nonetheless.
30th April, 2015

Les Déserts d'Orient - Songe d'un Bois d'Été by Guerlain

I must wade upstream here and say this is merely competent. It is not the sweaty cumin or the jaded leather that trouble me, it’s the flatness of the composition – Songe feels thick and sticky, like it has been spread on my skin like a perfumed depilatory wax. I prefer livelier perfumes. For all its naughty notes, it doesn’t feel carnal, just tired.
The early stages have a hefty glug of the sweets, almost as if Wasser’s hand slipped while he was pouring out the tonka or whatever it is to blame. Fortunately that recedes but one is left with a heavily spiced leather, which refuses to budge from its torpor. Even the myrrh, my personal catnip, suffers from the spicing and soaks it up. The scent of the thing is quite pleasant as it doesn’t have huge projection or intensity, but it’s so all of a piece there’s no danger of it bothering my wallet.
30th April, 2015

17/17 Irisss by Xerjoff

Oh, to be so fondly embraced! I wish it weren’t so (due to its completely unreasonable price), but to wear Irisss is to feel loved. I surrender.
Xerjoff have pulled something almost immaculate out of the hat.
To me this is iris perfected, the buttery, creamy, powdery, soapy, utterly luxurious gorgeousness of it played up, and the rooty and earthy elements given a backseat (despite additional bolstering by a carrot seed note). The supporting notes are handled with a deftness bordering on magic. Just a hint of bergamot to give freshness and a slight tang, so there’s no fear of this turning into a marshmallow. A soft, rounded, airy, floral accord, that accents the iris butter’s creamy beauty without distracting. Similarly the woody notes are barely there, providing hidden scaffolding.
Irisss wears light, light, light, but is there, there, there. It sets me afloat.
It drops off a bit by the 4-5 hour mark and loses some definition, resembling a subdued relative of Teint de Neige.
30th April, 2015

Opus VIII by Amouage

In the beginning, Opus VIII invites you to bask in its warmth. A cleaned up, properly-presented jasmine-led white floral with a hint of something aquatic hovering round the edges, coupled with a radiant balsamic aspect. Admittedly, the idea isn’t particularly complicated but it does have a degree of novelty and is executed with the typical Amouage richness.
The rest of the Opus line has more edge, to say nothing of peculiarity – this one is rather simple and friendly by contrast. It’s also on the demure side, with reasonable rather than blaring projection to start with and a rather disappointing tail-off in the later stages.
After initially having come under its spell, I must admit to a lessening of my affection with greater familiarity. As it is mostly linear after the top fades, I think this contributes to a waning of interest; also the balsams get a bit malty during the wear which does the overall impression no favours.
30th April, 2015

Coven by Andrea Maack

The scent of being knocked off one’s bike to land nose-first in a privet hedge, with the dry soil underneath choking one’s throat. Lord, it makes me feel alive.
The green notes here are photorealistic and exceptionally good – listed as grass but to me this is the vibrant, slightly bitter, always enlivening smell of recently cut hedges. Combine this with soil tincture of a throat-constricting dry earthiness with remnants of moss mixed in and you have a perfume that hurls you into the life of nature. Much needed in the denatured spaces of urban life. The earth tones bloom and sweeten over time and the whole creation loses its initial velocity to become much gentler and airier on one’s skin. It’s also inevitable that the green notes grow more generic after half a day’s wear, but the perfume remains compelling.
Coven should be sought out by all who value green perfumes; the first few hours make me think we are up there with the classics of contemporary perfumery. Something with such a distinct personality is clearly not for everyone – my partner recoiled upon smelling the first brisk spray. This Coven is up to thrilling, tingly things and – don’t tell anyone – I’ve joined.
30th April, 2015

Rosam by Histoires de Parfums

Who turned off all the lights? This is the most pitch-black perfume I have encountered.
The opening volley is of an endearing, transparent, almost watery rose warmed by mature woody tones. But within seconds it gets intensely inky, ferric almost, with rooty vegetal accents. You know the rose is still in there, because Rosam has soft edges, but it’s cloaked under that velvety darkness.
There are hints of other notes, a touch of zingy saffron, the depth charge of patchouli, but the abiding impression is prehistoric vegetal. The oud here is wood that is slowly liquefying under centuries of soil into a dark, highly unusual liquid.
I think Monsieur Ghislain’s oud trilogy is something else – unique, daring, but also, to me (there are those who disagree) perfectly judged in intensity, so that they are eminently wearable. In my greedier moments, I dream of owning full bottles of all three.
Rosam does shrink considerably in the later stages and the rose becomes more evident; the pleasure for me is in the black heart phase.
17th April, 2015

1831 Norma by Histoires de Parfums

A beautifully turned out jasmine atop a resplendent old school powdery resinous base, 1831 oozes sophistication but none of the chill that that word implies. I have to be a bit cautious around jasmine-prominent perfumes as some trigger headaches, but this has such integrity and is so fully-formed, I’d willingly risk a passing headache to experience some of its loveliness.
The aldehyde in this instance adds a dab of something sour – a crafty touch, lightening the saturation of the combo at the heart of this perfume: jasmine supported by ylang and rose. Wears soft and long-lasting. Does get a bit tired and unwashed by the end of the day as complex perfumes sometimes do.
17th April, 2015

Angélique by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

How to get inside a tin of Danish butter cookies – that’s the opening lesson of Angélique. The butterfat accord is so soft, delicious and unique (though, I hasten to add, without the cookie sugariness), one needs to try this just for that effect alone – miles from the usual orris butteriness.
The second surprise Angélique offers in the course of its development is that it isn’t really a floral in the traditional sense at all – despite osmanthus, champaca and mimosa being listed in the notes and the perfumer’s stated inspiration being the delicate scent of the flowers in her garden which led to an attempt to make an olfactory portrait of the iris pallida flower. Well, take that with a huge pinch of salt and enjoy Angélique for what it really is – a lemony cedar with a non-smoky frankincense accent suffused with that light, buttery aura.
Delicacy is its abiding aspect, difference is its trump, and it offers instant uplift.
17th April, 2015

Bal d'Afrique by Byredo

To me Bal d’Afrique is immediately about assiduously cared for skin. From initial associations of sun tan lotions with a hint of coconut oil, I plump for a more non-specific impression of skin caressed by unguents and soothing oils which later on reveals its musky character. This is skin one wants to touch and be touched by, and it gives Bal d’Afrique a warm, inviting personality.
Upon this floats a melange of lightly handled notes – the blackcurrant-like buchu, honeyed neroli and jasmine given a fruity aspect by citrus, the greenish, almost herbal scent of marigold.
Others have commented on a similarity to Hermes’ Vetiver Tonka and I too perceive it in an almost cocoa-like depth to this creation, but the fruity, musky tones are all its own and make it sufficiently different. The later stages get woodier, a grown up cedar-vetiver accord that remains creamy rather than sharp.
A perfume of gentle sensuality, with a certain elusive quality (the notes keep shifting), I find Bal d’Afrique confidently understated.
17th April, 2015

L'Homme Idéal by Guerlain

I’ve left it late trying L’Homme Ideal properly. I had to let the howls of disappointment that were echoing across the perfumed cybersphere die down. I had to get a bit of distance from its vomitous name and tacky marketing campaign. And I had to get over an encounter with it in a department store which left me feeling I’d damaged my nose, as it came across as a screechingly synthetic sugary citrus.
Trying it at home I am of two minds. I have to balance my perception that the aura of this perfume is warm, inviting, comfortable (supremely safe), and would make me want to nuzzle up to myself if I could, against its synthetic and yawnsome aspects.
A perfectly projected aromatic sweetness (as found in certain popular daddy colognes and soaps) is constant throughout this Homme’s evolution – it’s certainly there in the gum drop citruses at the start, it’s backing the unusual almond heart phase (almost spoiling it), and it finds its home in the mild woody base that is territory marked out by numerous designer ‘masculines’. The problem, as many have pointed out, is that this base while sweet and reassuring, also comes across as overly synthetic: the citruses, though muted, still linger, resolutely gumdroppy, the appealing almond scales back to being just another player in the mix before bowing out, and the woody-tonka base seems almost completely concocted.
Here one cannot avoid a bit of interference from memory – the best Guerlain bases twinkle with a myriad mysterious facets, this one is just a radiant aromatic thing that smells generic, it belongs, one cannot help thinking, in some twinky cologne perpetrated by some sports manufacturer.
While emphasizing L’Homme Ideal’s synthetic feel, it would be wrong to suggest that this is a displeasing scent – no, despite its amped up sweetness (the taste of the times) it is well-balanced with good projection. But like the perfect man, it is a crashing bore.
Nonetheless, smelling its trail upon re-entering a room, I am struck by how broadly inviting it is – it’s the kind of thing I’d smell on someone and instantly say, ‘My, you smell good.’
If this was Guerlain’s stab at mainstream popularity, it wins on that count – and I think the sales figures are backing it up. Does it belong in the Guerlain tradition? Let’s just say we’re in different times...
17th April, 2015

Violettes du Czar by Oriza L. Legrand

A complex (but subtle) perfume that opens like one of those overly vegetal irises that are easier to admire than to love. There are minty tones, suede accents, something a bit sharp and sweaty (the tolu?), old school spicy wood – this Czar is no simpleton. Surrounded by these rather butch companions, the sweet violets that have the starring role are quite transformed – ‘heart of gold, fist of steel’ clichés come to my mind.
This is yet another perfume that Oriza have resurrected that seems to be calling from a bygone age and, once one has adjusted to its complexity, it’s a winner. The powders, shimmery wood notes, melancholy heliotrope create an aura that is reminiscent of many a refined long-gone offering. They offer magic to the central accord of violet-iris-suede.
Wears light and lingering – just as I want it to.
10th April, 2015

Royal Oud by Creed

Radiating sophistication, this seems the zenith of bracing aftershaves. If you think that’s a backhanded compliment, it’s not – good aftershaves have that ‘close your eyes and lean into the wind’ quality that eludes perfumes that take themselves more seriously.
Essentially a quality cedar brightened with sparkling pepper and citrus and lifted by the abiding herbal freshness of angelica, Royal Oud is full of life and energy and would be a great choice for social occasions. It’s not an oud by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems finicky to complain when the finished product is so dashing.
Flattens and thins after about four hours, so not an unqualified success.
10th April, 2015

Rose Infernale by Terry de Gunzburg

A dry, rich, almost salty rose with a purring myrrh* backing that is great in its own right but is far too derivative of the Caron classic Parfum Sacre for my taste. If you haven’t tried the silkier Caron this may wow you. The points of divergence are a brief burst of something green at the top and a much more dominant rose (which turns juicier) in the late stages. For a perfume that comes on quite strong, it fades quite considerably after about the four hour mark.
* Not a note mentioned in the brief lists available – instead there’s nutmeg and frankincense, but it sure smells like a good quality myrrh.
10th April, 2015

Kanz by So Oud

Kanz delivers honeyed florals in a hairspray haze. SoOud claim this perfume is ‘black as coal’. I don’t get that; it’s far too clean for a start. And the cypriol that is supposed to be in here is doing a good job of hiding its smokiness.
The floral elements are the stars here and they are presented in quite a jammy way, the flowers seem almost to be turning to fruit. But this rich, sweet accord has great depth and a hint of a lactonic base. Offset against a discreet, smooth, shimmery, wood backdrop (more sandalwood than oud to my nose), the result is a perfume of considerable charm. (The hairspray musks die back over time.)
One does have to spray liberally to get Kanz to project which is a negative at this price point.
10th April, 2015

Pentachord Auburn by Tauer

The Pentachords trio is about Tauer’s presentation of unusual accords using just five synthetic ingredients each. If Verdant was surprisingly evocative of rain-drenched nature at its most inviting, and White was a study in porcelain aloofness, then Auburn is Tauer coming right up to your nose to blow a mighty synthetic raspberry.
Boy, does he chuck his toys out of the pram with this one, with a perfume that rolls into one bubble gum, frooty scented erasers and those sachets of purple powder that when mixed with water yielded a tongue-tickling concoction the manufacturers chose to label as ‘grape’ (though it tasted like no grape that graces this planet). Tauer takes all this magical childhood tat and presents it to grown-ups. The problem is, it is transportive for a few hours after which it outstays its welcome; one can tire quickly of too much fun.
The main player is a seriously morphed orange blossom note romping about in dayglo nappies which, I suspect, gives the impression of all that manic fruitiness. There’s a rather nice sandalwood glimpsed at the start, which subsides into the background too soon. I get a whiff of cinnamon, next to none of tobacco, and the amber could be anywhere, being an idea rather than a defined scent to begin with.
Worth a go if you can last the course.
10th April, 2015

A Midsummer Day's Dream / Elektra by Olympic Orchids

Smelling the fruitsick over menthol opening unfold one thinks one can guess why this Midsummer Day’s Dream was cut short. But it hasn’t vanished – it now goes by the name Elektra in the Olympic Orchids line-up.
Wait, however, until the drydown which does interesting things. It reminds me most of an innocent’s armpit – undeodorized but alive with fruity pheromonal nuance. There are shades of the always-overripe slightly sweaty scent of guava here mingling with something green and leafy, with an odd pine-like accent.
The actual notes are: blackcurrant, figs, green fig leaves, over an amber base. It’s likely the blackcurrant that is prompting the guava associations. The Olympic Orchids website calls it ‘a sensual oriental gourmand’ – I find it much too wide open and green to be an oriental and, despite the fruit tones, there’s little about it that makes my tongue water either (those figs are just not ready to eat). But what it does have in spades is a certain innocent and nerdy sensuality that makes you want to go right up and lick that proffered armpit.
Out there in a wonky orbit all its own, this perfume is a clear demonstration of the independence of the artisanal perfumer. Bafflingly, it works splendidly for me.
10th April, 2015

Misqaal by Tola

An oomphy oddity which opens with a powerful blast of what I imagine dozens of fruity florals boiled up with Charlie might smell like – jammy, overdone, with a synthetic rictus about it. And then things get even odder, a surge of notes – mushrooms, shed skin, old paper, dry earth and herbs – rush up to jostle the mix. Before – wait for it – ta-daaa, the curtains part and on comes a luscious pineapple going chikichikiboomchik.
Now Misqaal begins to settle and the elements finally achieve some kind of balance – or should that be truce? The dry notes here offer an accord that reads like papyrus or drought-hit vegetation (even the usually dank wormwood succumbs), which coupled with subtle animalics and powdery sandal is the best part of this perfume. The counterpart is the boingboing fruitiness, which, while scaling down over time, always seems a bit on edge with that base.
Runs out of steam after a few hours and becomes a nondescript, sweetish skin scent.
Whatever else one may say about the Tola line, the perfumes have wayward personalities which pique my interest. I may never own a bottle, but I sure as hell want to try them all.
02nd April, 2015

Nejma Two by Nejma

A rose so rich that were it a sauce it would have been reduced down to a thimbleful from a bathtub of stock. This concentration creates quite a hypnotic distortion, the sweetness bringing to mind those discoveries from the plant world that are supposedly umpteen times sweeter than sugar. No rose smells like this in nature but they sure do in Arabic perfumery; this is essence of rose compounded to diamantine intensity.
The opening is seriously musked up with a touch of aldehydic lift, but these are distractions from the dynamite rose which is supported wonderfully by much softer oud and sandal tones and a perfectly complementary bitter marzipan-like note (perhaps patchouli).
If roses of an almost choking potency (a la Nahema or Black Aoud) are your thing then it’s well worth seeking out this burst of operatic ecstasy. Forget ‘noir’ offerings that are about as dark as a gooseberry, this is the real deal – down the mineshaft on a moonless night.
Curiously, the wood notes don’t persist into the deep drydown in any recognizable form, so the overall feel becomes softer but also a bit less special.
02nd April, 2015

T. Habanero by Rania J

The first impression T Habanero gives is of a spiced leather but buffed to the extent it seems to skip into the ranks of refined barbershop colognes. Partly this has to do with fresh aromatic notes at the start – something that registers as mossy and green, and possibly also cardamom skins which have an altogether livelier scent than the seeds they contain.
Although it is named after the black tobacco heart note, for me the leather-oud pairing in its base is the main proposition in the heart phase: discretely handled, almost subdued, but it’s the floor upon which the herbal and resinous elements dance. To my nose the tobacco is moist, slightly bitter, but far too light to invite much attention. Eventually it’s that herbal mossiness backed by powdery wood notes that lingers.
In T Habanero Rania J has produced a well turned-out perfume, but one that is a tad too modest in expressing itself. It also seems to run its course in about 3 to 4 hours, after which all one is left with is something dried out and vaguely mossy, an odour rather than a perfume.
02nd April, 2015

Oud 27 by Le Labo

Newly felled logs left in a pile get rained on overnight. A cat that has eaten something it shouldn’t have comes by and voids its bowels. The following morning, the work of stripping the logs begins: bark and woodchips fly, sap flows, a cloud of damp and earthy wood scents hang in the air. Next they are sawn into planks and left in the golden sun to dry, before being brought indoors, where they ooze their inviting, new-minted odour, driving you back again and again to where they are stored. Their scent changes in shades all the time, deepening, getting more and more civilized, picking up traces of honeyed floor wax, but keeping the rush of fresh sawdust about it.
This is Oud 27 for me – the wood is mainly an inviting sappy, sweet cedar which gains sandal accents over time as the aroma profile ‘dries out’. The oud could be the faecal emanation at the start (soon gone), or it could be the peppery dryness that lingers over the whole, but it’s not the focal point, in fact it seems not to be the point at all. As a straight up woody, this is a strong offering.
02nd April, 2015

Eau de Mumtaz-i Mahal by Maison Nicolas De Barry

Slightly more complex than Shah Jahan, which one imagines must be the companion perfume from this house. Nonetheless, this is also a straight-down-the-road rose and sandal combination which is bound to please people searching for just such a thing.
The rose opens with a slightly blowsy, fermenting grapes/white wine note to it, which has its charms, before a gust of something like ambrette sweeps in all but obliterating it for a short while. When the perfume settles that slightly drunken rose re-emerges backed by subtle, mellow sandal. There’s a richness to the composition which seems to point to the materials used; this one can just confidently be what it is, without bothering with embroidery.
02nd April, 2015

Fam by So Oud

I’ve been searching for a lactonic rose creation in which the rose remained fresh and floral without turning into a pudding. Well, Fam is it to some extent, but skewed somewhat with rubbery, vinyl-like tones which are less flattering.
The whole is feather-soft and cuddly, with even the woody notes expressed as powders. The late drydown is so full of air and light it feels like wearing an angel’s clothing. However, I have had a less charitable response on other days when Fam just feels like a pale and underpowered rose. I do think it is one of those perfumes to which one has to bring a certain receptivity, otherwise its quietness can be a disadvantage. Needs re-spraying after about 4 hours.
02nd April, 2015

Tonka Impériale by Guerlain

Some perfumes go: ‘Oh you poor thing, come rest your head on my ample and soft bosom,’ and then they enfold you and are sweet and gentle, and the troubles of the world ease a bit. Please imagine it, if you haven’t had the experience, because that is the best way I could think of describing Tonka Imperiale’s influence. It’s a kind perfume, and, as the world should know by now, kindness is much sexier than all the huffpuff one usually gets sold.
Thierry Wasser has done justice to the star of his creation; here tonka reveals its essential warmth and cherry tobacco allure. Curiously the vanillic tones are downplayed here but they’re not missed. The density characteristic of tonka’s odour profile is also absent but such richness would have been overbearing, as there are other powerful players here. Striking among them are nectarous notes: jasmine is mentioned in the official list but here it imparts more honey than a floral accent, and there’s some jammy fruit in shades of cherry and raspberry.
Subtle balancing accents of bitter almonds and green wood unobtrusively play their part, but on my skin Tonka Imperiale is a ‘come and bite me’ gourmand. It’s a genre I’m not particularly enamoured of but this is an example with great generosity of spirit rather than the usual brashness. The finish is creamy, mousse-like. I rest my head on its warm and inviting bosom.
I am less keen on Tonka Imperiale a few hours in, when the notes blend a bit too much and a formless, sweet, almondy cloud takes over. It’s still got a surface finesse, but much of the character is gone.
27th March, 2015

Sacred Wood by By Kilian

Having grown up in a home where sandalwood chips were burned every evening as a ritual marker between the hours of daylight and those of night, I was pleased to find the scent of the wood truly represented here. Perhaps its profile is less mild and creamy than the sandalwood oils found in attars of old but it does the dry, sharp (almost tangy) but breath-catching fragrant aura of the woodchips well. What I most appreciate about Sacred Wood is its evocation of just split wood – the resinous dryness of it, the earthy sweetness (plant blood!), the suggestion of furniture and sawdust. I’ll happily wear any perfume that brings those things to mind. The mild shadings of incense and elemi in the background serve to highlight the star.
I don’t find the milky tones particularly evident, instead what I do get is something that registers like a mix between camphor and Vicks Vaporub around the edges. The only duff note in this otherwise starkly appealing creation, it does however vanish after a short while. It leaves behind pure mature sandalwood – the sweet rounded scent found in Indian emporia – all the just-cut or splintered wood tones also having disappeared.

27th March, 2015

Tobacco Rose by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

A perfume with an evolution that is as long as the day.
The opening hours introduce a hay-tossed rose that feels natural and unforced. Whereas the Papillon website drools all the usual rose clichés – ‘sensual’, ‘opulent’, ‘luxuriously rich’, ‘smoky’, ‘earthy’– hardly any actually apply. So much for marketing babble...
If you were expecting something unctuously rich at this stage you’re looking in the wrong place. But if you’re after a supple and true rose, rolled in the hay at the start, with glimpses of something sharp almost like fenugreek (my money’s on the beeswax), green almost vegetal touches and a hint of flint, then Tobacco Rose is for you. Smoke and earth, I do not get, nor the tobacco of its name. Nor does this have the brooding quality that descriptors like ‘sensual’ and ‘opulent’ suggest; it is an altogether livelier affair that is so easy to wear, it could be habit forming.
But then after about four hours wear comes a transitioning phase where the rose is left standing in its traditional sweet incarnation – this seems much less compelling than what has gone before. There is, however, a further development, where the final stage is reached and it is as a woody rose of some heft and depth not unlike a few Montale’s I have known, and as comforting and rewarding.
Tobacco Rose is no wild ride – its stages take their time coming into frame. If roses are your thing it’s a must-try.
27th March, 2015

1890 La Dame de Pique by Histoires de Parfums

A leather perked up with ginger and resinous (rather than smoky) incense, 1890 reminds me a bit of strong liqueurs like Chartreuse in its opening; it has a kick and herbal tang, but it draws me in for another little sip.
Having established this strong and sinewy accord, the rest of the composition plays it safe bringing in syrupy florals, rice powder and an ambery base to round things out in a classical manner. However, the florals don’t really integrate with the leather and at times give the distinct impression of having turned it a bit mouldy. This saturated sweet phase is short-lived, but what is left is a rather tired leather with some powdery resinous dust in its creases and amber in its pocket. The PR talks about ‘all-consuming passion’ but the perfume conveys to me something more akin to a jaded ‘can I be bothered?’ look in a late night bar.
There is a final twist, when 1890 finally decides to shrug off its leather jacket and lie down as a somewhat lipsticky with a touch of fruit amber. I alternate between finding this pleasant and then cloying; hours and hours of this tries my patience.
27th March, 2015

New York Oud by Bond No. 9

Heady, heavily fruity and honeyed rose with an undertow of skin musks to dirty it up a little. Something so over the top and with such an authoritarian will to power is bound to come across as somewhat unnatural – this is a rose perfume with a John Waters aesthetic, capable of touching the parts others won’t, but also loud and tacky. The fruit note is supposedly a plum but comes across more as a synthetic litchi – it can unleash both saliva and fatigue. As for the oud, I’m going to have to pitch my tent in the ‘There’s no oud in this’ camp.
New York Oud is full-tilt rose mayhem tottering on 10 inch purple vinyl heels and there are times when I am definitely in the mood for that. Unfortunately, they are getting increasingly infrequent as I get older. If the coin was in the air about this one for me, it dropped and fell into the gutter after four hours or so. At this point there is barely any let up in volume but the scent itself has morphed into something so plastic there should be an environmental warning in place.
27th March, 2015

Narciso Rodriguez For Him Eau de Parfum Intense by Narciso Rodriguez

Oh, what a joyous and elegant musky thing this is. The opening reads like a heavenly light jasmine mixed with a Kiehl’s quality musk to my nose before it begins to morph to reveal it’s true nature – violet leaves, but not the bruisers of perfumes like Grey Flannel, instead full of a sappy vibrancy and sweet. That lovely, perfectly pitched musk blends perfectly and a subdued woody powderiness sings backing vocals. It makes a straightforward idea its strength rather than aiming for anything complex and the main evolution is towards a greater pointedness in the violet rendition.
It’s warm, it embraces the wearer and encourages naughty thoughts, it’s not at all overbearing and is incredibly polished – what more could one ask for from a mainstream fragrance? Well, perhaps a more forceful projection, but apart from that it’s an uncomplicated pleasure.
15th March, 2015

Marions-Nous (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

A falling between stools kind of perfume for the first hour or so, where the attempt to marry an aldehydic floral with an animalic base doesn’t come off. At its opening Marions Nous throws a huge floral bouquet (with a clove-tinged carnation and a fatty jasmine as the main players), all a swirl with a powdery aldehyde wrapping itself around it like sheets of cellophane.
I imagine the base notes were intended to earth this flight of fancy as civet and a Tonkin musk construct are mentioned, but unfortunately they go a bit odd – the musk turns vegetal and the civet doesn’t really integrate. What is odder still is that somewhere in its evolution – perhaps it’s the hyacinth (difficult to get right) – a combination of notes conspires to give a strong toothpaste aspect to the aura.
In many ways Marions Nous reads as solidly old school (the mixed floral tinged with clove, aldehydes, the nether regions base) – but there’s old school and there’s old school, and this one lurks at the back of the class for me for its first hour or so.
But then the base starts to win out and assert a personality that is more worthy of attention. Now the creamy yet sharp sandalwood comes into evidence modulating the animalics, and the clove seems perfectly integrated. The florals recede to a ‘just right’ level in the mix (their buttery tones still evident – I get an impression of narcissus – but no longer thrust right under one’s nose). The aldehyde dies back. If one takes the ‘let’s get married’ conceit of the perfume at face value – we are now relaxing in the bed sheets in a contented post-coital glow after the stress of the wedding day. The perfume has redeemed itself and reads like something that could belong in the vintage Caron stable – for some this will be high praise indeed.
Lasts the whole waking day, so one can admire the drydown for a long time.
15th March, 2015

Peety by O'Driù

A casual glance at the reviews available will reveal that Peety opens with a volley of ripe, rich notes – a plethora of dry floral notes, bitter citruses and herbal notes, pungent resins, smoke, darkness, beeswax.
The overall impression once the notes begin to blend is of an old wooden floor, impregnated with the dirt and polish of decades and reeking of dried urine – this last piercing, salty and cloyingly honeyed.
Fortunately, this is a transitioning phase before the true heart of this fragrance is revealed – a wild animal prowls here, one feels its hot breath and feral tang marking out its territory among the strong citrus inflected herbs and the piss-and-honey tobacco. A curious duality of plant accents – both dried out and alive – tricks the nose. The florals exist in their fatty, essential oils incarnations rather than as the airborne notes we are more used to.
I didn’t customize my sample; I feel the composition has quite enough pee of its own. I’m undecided about Peety – it gives me a strong sense of ‘trying too hard’ and I feel I have to justify what I am smelling. The aura of this perfume is complex and rich, but up close the ranker elements just fail to convince.
Peety gets rounder and sweeter in the late drydown sharing a family resemblance with some of the spicier Tauers.
15th March, 2015