Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Opus VI by Amouage

    Quite a few of the Library Collection have offered us takes on ultra-dry woody perfumes, however, the Opus VI iteration is quite the best, beautifully judged with all elements falling into place like a weather beaten log section found in the desert that contains such texture and detail that one feels compelled to put it on display. The opening feels like entering the grain of such wood of ages, except here the choicest resins have been rubbed in as well. Cypriol, bay and frankincense add a little parched green and smokiness. The amber at the heart is rich yet polished smooth; with only a slight sweetness, somewhat winey, it emerges bit by bit to complete the composition. With repeated wears this beautiful amber is what the nose recognizes as the defining aspect of this creation.
    Opus VI may not be wildly original, but it bats the competition right out of this particular ballpark. It has a feel of wide open spaces and freedom, like running across a cliff top. It wears creamy and soft while projecting perfectly and lasting long. For this I give thanks.

    02nd July, 2014

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    La Panthère by Cartier

    A dusky, somewhat musty sweetness that suggested hidden depths kept drawing me back to La Panthere whenever I was browsing perfumes. However, when I succumbed to testing it on my skin, all hopes deflated. That bewitching top was gone in seconds to be replaced by an etheric hair varnish and nail lacquer smell that Tocade did much more successfully and an overall fat ylang sweetness of the kind that sank JHAG’s Oil Fiction in the pit of perpetual monotony.

    08th June, 2014

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    Tabac Blond by Caron

    The current EDP iteration is a faded leather with very little throw. Why bother?
    The top is a bit better, a brisk carnation and leather combo, with an ‘I mean business’ demeanour. Underlying it is the kind of smell you get on a coat when the wearer has worn the same perfume for a long time and there is a build-up of the drydown and staleness. Still, not bad in a fuddy duddy fashion. However, minutes in, the dry vanilla joins in to leave one with only a reluctant leather with the occasional powdery waft of the now somewhat wilted carnation. It’s not unappealing, it just refuses to project.

    08th June, 2014

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    L'Etrog by Arquiste

    Continuing in the sheer style which seems to be Arquiste’s default, L’Etrog is structured in three thin layers. A light and airy lemony citrus (without the chemical scrape that louder attempts almost inevitably acquire) floats over a stripped back ‘clean’ woods layer, evocative of bamboo but probably originating from a denuded vetiver. Sandwiched in between are hints of sweetness – allegedly dates but could be anything – which weren’t really essential but one doesn’t mind them, especially as they retreat pretty quickly. The whole impresses for about ten minutes, after which it’s background hum. A shame – many of the Arquistes seem to present familiar elements in refreshed ways but fall victim to this tendency to mumble. Though longlasting, the later stages of the journey are a downgrade: the citrus gets increasingly artificial and the whole thing morphs into one of those green tea type affairs.

    08th June, 2014

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    Oud Imperial by Perris Monte Carlo

    After a booze-and-sweat opening which seems to suggest an immortelle bomb, there’s a swish of the magician’s silk handkerchief – in this case a proud display of some fine, sharp cedar – before the true ink-and-charcoal nature of Oud Imperial stands revealed. Smoky vetiver is pushed to the max, coupled with the dryness of the cedar and there’s some sandalwood singing a classical air in the background. Intensely woody and a touch salty, I wouldn’t have plumped for ‘oud’ right away had I tried it blind, though the rotwood note does emerge later in the perfume’s evolution coupled with some soft saffron-like spice. And the evolution on this one is looonnngg: by the 8-10 hour mark one gets a slightly savoury woody amber in the recent Amouage style, 12 hours or so and further, the ambery sweetness is pretty much centrestage. These later stages seem less inspired but will undoubtedly be loved by many. However, if like me you cannot get enough of fragrant wood notes front, back and centre (not messed about with floral or aquatic notes), then this one offers fulfilment for at least a good 8 hours.

    08th June, 2014

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    Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford

    Tremendously polite, which is not something one can say about its mama, Black Orchid. There’s a curious dissonance at the start where the citruses separate from the creamier, more vanillic, honeyed and mushed up florals that are at the heart of this perfume as if they were enacting some olfactory organ rejection scenario. The floral notes are of the dense variety: jasmines and hyacinths, the pollen laden and fatty narcissus, languid heliotrope, to say nothing of the hothouse orchid accords that supposedly reign, which few will have smelled but most can imagine. Not that these florals are available in any distinct form, they create a rich and heavy core to what remains a pretty muted perfume. A sourish make up note (recently quite in vogue) is on trend but adds little. Whereas something boozy which made my nostrils flare with interest fades out of the mix too soon.
    Funnily enough, Velvet Orchid, with its profusion of notes still leaves me wanting more, it has a curiously unfinished, almost unpolished feel, even though four perfumers were involved in its making. The deep drydown is its most satisfying phase wherein a suede aspect melds successfully with the cosmetic accord taking this into terrain usually covered by iris-centred perfumes.

    08th June, 2014

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    Luzonica by Olympic Orchids

    A down the rabbit hole kind of perfume from the daringly different Olympic Orchids line. Opens with tropical fruit on the turn and turpentine notes – cloying, sweet, dense, with that wild card furniture store whiff. As it settles the fruit mellows, pineapple stepping to the fore somewhat, and the resins get more integrated. Well, this is a pretty unploughed furrow, but a bit headachey for my taste.

    29th May, 2014

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    Un Matin d'Orage Eau de Toilette by Annick Goutal

    Maybe the name has made me suggestible, but Un Matin d’Orage definitely opens for me as a morning scent – like mornings in the tropics, before the stifling heat of midday, where flowers like champaka waft on the air and actually have a cooling aspect rather than the cloying sultriness that they turn on in the evening.
    A soothing rain-cooled start which settles into a slightly more generic, green-inflected, foamy jasmine. Pleasant to wear, somewhat modest, with a hint of stewed vegetables buried deep within the mix.

    29th May, 2014

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    Siam Proun by Olympic Orchids

    This perfume appears to have found the Elixir of Eternal Age, for what opens as a quite unexpectedly good combination of fresh herbal notes sitting atop a citrus flavoured but syrupy amber morphs within the space of an hour into the same combination but now received after the span of years, after it’s been left in the corner of a cupboard next to the mothballs. All the herbs have dried out. Still interesting but I miss the freshness of the start.

    29th May, 2014

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    Scent by Theo Fennell

    Having bought this over two years ago, and having worn it infrequently (though from time to time spraying it into the air just to get a lungful) it is safe to say I have approach-avoidance issues with this perfume.
    I remember chancing upon Theo Fennell’s shop in London and getting a strip (jet black!) sprayed with it and walking about undecided – a glorious burst of saffron coupled with rich oriental opulence that seemed tempting but threatened overindulgence at the same time. I kept the strip and sniffed it overnight and was amazed at how beautifully the perfume lasted and by the next morning felt a trip across the London miles was in order to get myself a bottle.
    But then when it came to wearing the thing, I found its complexity became jarringly intrusive when I was under the slightest of stress, so had to wear it only when I knew I would be having a relaxed kind of day.
    Among the other surprises after the brocaded saffron coupled with a Kiehl’s like white floral (lily mainly) musk of the opening was a whopping drop of cumin which gives the first hour of wear an uneasy staleness. But then, once it has receded, the full glory of this creation is revealed – that wonderful, slightly indolic sweet musk; dreamy, powdery, sandalwood; caressing balsams; dark, clotted notes like patchouli and orchid. The whole thing inflects one way, then another during the course of the wear and invites contemplation like a glass of the most miraculous red wine. I’ve found that giving it time and wearing only a couple of sprays affords me the most pleasure, and am now resolved to visiting it more often.

    29th May, 2014

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    Amyris Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Amyris enters in a billowy, white muslin dress. Light, clean, an elegant marriage of decent quality (ie without the usual chemical screech) citrus and soft florals, it evokes a fantasy summer regardless of when one might use it. There’s a transparency and radiance to it that make it so easy to slip into; it maintains its presence without intruding. Something this subtle was never going to knock my socks off but its gentle mood music is uplifting nonetheless.
    However it loses me at the three or four hour mark where a sweet citrus more suited to detergents is the predominant impression.

    14th May, 2014

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    Amyris Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Crisp, chirpy, and utterly conventional. The overriding impression I take away from Amyris Homme is of a citrus-rosemary accord common to legions of ‘masculines’ done in an ‘aqua’ manner, dipped in tonka sweetness and sitting on that horribly piercing wood base that is the bane of several designer offerings – here given the glib appellation Modern Woods (put that in your pipe and smoke it!).
    There was a brief redeeming moment when a sandpapery coffee spooned lovingly with the woods but it soon got drowned. I haven’t a clue what amyris blossoms smell like – but on this evidence I’m not any wiser.
    I’m afraid I have to join the chorus that’s singing this is generic designer ware not worthy of MFK.

    14th May, 2014

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    Boutonnière No.7 by Arquiste

    Five minutes of gardenia approximation followed by hours of standard white floral in a transparent and somewhat flat style. Surely not the intended effect of the charming marketing back story.

    14th May, 2014

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    Vetiver Dance by Tauer

    Tauer writes of the ‘dark, raw and almost damp earthiness’ (so true!) of vetiver and the opening of this perfume is petrichor and a gale of grassy greens. Vetiver Dance has a strong floral component, too, (most prominent to my nose is the Carillon-like lily of the valley note) but its use of the rooty, damp, sweet soil qualities of its star is honest unlike the numerous vetivers that are a ghost of the ingredient they purport to represent. Bracing, touched by nature, and wearing much lighter than usual for a Tauer composition (though there’s nothing wrong with either the tenacity or throw of this perfume), Vetiver Dance does it for me. There’s a slight dissonant sweatiness – probably a combination of the sage and cedar – which makes me think that Tauer is making an unnecessary token gesture to the legion of dried out vetivers out there, but it’s not enough to rob this one of its essential joyfulness.

    14th May, 2014

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    Oud Cashmere Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    A dark and rich woody scent, like wedging one’s nose into the midsection of a just split, somewhat rain sodden log. Combine this with the kind of glue used to bind shoe leather and the result is a most satisfying scent. Oud Cashmere Mood may not be complex but it sure is deep. Hints of sweet rot and a slight pepperiness complement the wood beautifully. Does have the airbrushed aesthetic of an MFK offering – but it’s impossible to deny the heartwood and its earthbound pull. Good work.
    Has serious lasting power and a stale version of the scent will linger for days on surfaces it touches – think jackets, bed sheets, heck I even have to wipe down my desk top the following day.

    14th May, 2014

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    Oud Cuir D'Arabie by Montale

    Many leathers try too hard, whipping their bearish chests with herbs and nettles, bathing in great puffs of spice. The effect is a bit like drag gone horribly wrong.
    Montale’s Cuir d’Arabie is a glorious exception – it transports me to a postage stamp sized shop on Bombay’s Colaba causeway packed with row upon row of Kohalpuri chappals (slippers) made of freshly tanned leather. This is leather at its purest, bathed in turps and just come off the factory floor, almost sharp – not the stale and tired thing often encountered in perfumery. It’s like sniffing the inside of a brand new shoe.
    Although the leather is the star here, the oud is no slouch – emerging first as a typically ripe blue cheese fume, it soon softens and reveals its woody, lightly smoked, sweetish character. There’s likely a dab of rose in the mix somewhere, I sense its purr in the later stages.
    This leather-oud embrace has the surety and rightness of Rodin’s lovers. Cuir d’Arabie is undoubtedly strong but curiously it also has a gentle, diffuse halo around it, light as a snow globe cloud.
    Challenging, schmallenging! – this is the perfume of dreams.

    14th May, 2014

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    Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

    Mass market perfume-making by numbers targeted at men. Here’s how it’s done by Boss Bottled: take a dirt poor citrus-woody combo, douse in sweet frootiness, chuck in the most generic (and obnoxious) herbal-spice mix possible in an attempt at giving it some cojones, lay it all atop an air freshener ‘cool’ formulation for fear those cojones should start to show. Egad, no wonder modern masculinity’s a funny thing! Should be sold with a box of paracetamol tabs taped to its side.
    Does reveal a decent vanilla in the deep base, but one has to swim through a lot of dreck to get to it.

    03rd May, 2014

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    Beyond Love by By Kilian

    Tuberose-a-go-go with bells on.
    The opening takes a short while to settle – there are puffs of green to give space to the white floral richness and something of the quality of overripe fruit. But once Beyond Love has got into its stride it is more or less pure, vivid tuberose, which depending on your tolerance for this blossom will determine what you think of it. For me it is pretty Unlovable, but that’s a personal prejudice – I have to recognize the craft and deftness of the perfumer in keeping the fresher aspects of the tuberose odour profile alongside the languorous, heavier ones. Few tuberose soliflores manage that; here’s a living, breathing composition.

    03rd May, 2014

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    Vert Pivoine by Histoires de Parfums

    Light-wearing, pleasant, but failed attempt at a peony scent (this is more a watery rose and pepper), which doesn’t inspire me to discuss it at length. It seems to have a kind of muzak value of setting a background mood – probably nice to wear to go out walking in fields or to fall asleep to. Decent staying power while remaining airy – even the woods are powdery. The pepperiness fades in the later stages and a soft and uncomplicated rose is left.

    03rd May, 2014

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    Attar by Montale

    Lush Arabian perfumery roses DRENCHED in syrup, served up on powdery fragrant wood. Direct and full-on, it really touches the right spots. Somewhat unoriginal and I couldn’t say how close the ingredients are to nature, but when there’s such a combination of power and beauty, who could resist? Disregard the nail varnish air of the opening seconds, that’s just Attar checking itself in the mirror before making its grand entrance.
    However this va-va-voom quality persists for only about an hour or so, after which Attar gets much lighter, muskier, the woods more prominent and the whole experience a bit more soft focus. Somewhat reminiscent of Aoud Queen Roses (but that’s hardly a surprise with the Montale clan of perfumes where family resemblances are quite pronounced).

    03rd May, 2014

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    Patchouli Homme by Réminiscence

    Dejected little thing that emerges through some dusty lime. Some perfumes are perfectly blended, others perfectly muddled – this offering from Reminiscence belongs in the latter category. It seems to be forever trying to make its presence felt through a dense fog. Mildly spicy, parsimonious with the patchouli and covered in a pile of murk, this – while not unpleasant – is one of those ‘why bother?’ perfumes.

    24th April, 2014

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    Horizon (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    What an exquisite blend of roasted, warm, dry, leathery notes – in my mind the pages of an antique tome in a heavy leather binding, fragrant with the dust and sweat of ages, flutter by.
    The overriding opening accord of desiccated patchouli with bitter cocoa is quickly supported by myriad sympathetic tones – roast almonds, aged leather, booze, papery tobacco (rather than the sweet cured note most often encountered in perfumery), smoked vanilla. But the most thrilling aspect of all this richly fragrant aged dryness is that it is paired with something damp, mouldy and infectious – most likely the peat note in the base – which makes the whole thing come compellingly alive.
    This would have been completely addictive but for the late drydown (we’re talking about 4-5 hours down the line) where this Horizon sadly shrinks to little more than a mildly sweetish patchouli.

    24th April, 2014

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    Esprit du Tigre / Spirit of the Tiger by Heeley

    All the comparisons to Tiger Balm put me off trying this one for the longest time. However, it is one of those ‘it does smell like it and yet it doesn’t’ perfumes and I’m glad I broke through my reluctance.
    The main point of divergence is that Esprit du Tigre is light and airy (not unctuous and pore-cloggingly heavy like Tiger Balm). It is overdosed with clove but what a supple, almost green clove – not some garam masala disaster. The other spices all seem to be behind this radiant clove note, pushing it to the fore. The other bulwark is a camphor that is medicinal in a magickal kind of way rather than reminiscent of the sterile hospital ward. But the stroke of genius is the mint that breezes through this composition blending beautifully with the spiciness, bringing the breath of the outdoors and giving the whole thing lift.
    If Esprit du Tigre is a spice bomb, it’s one that explodes going ‘poof!’ or ‘voila!’ rather than ‘BLAM!’. I don’t particularly go for spicy perfumes, I don’t care much for clove or mint in my scents, but I still find Esprit du Tigre completely appealing.
    It has a pretty long evolution, transitioning first after a few hours into mainly a light and sweet clove before morphing into something oozing creamy soapiness that feels like being wrapped in a fluffy shawl.

    24th April, 2014

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    Aleksandr by Arquiste

    Beguiling scent which plays up the these-are-not-quite-like-other-flowers mystery of violets beautifully. A soft candied odour calling through sheets of ice and a film of something milky, it shifts sightly all the time and keeps the nose alert. Underneath is a touch of some suede-y leather and a peppery green. The overall impression is of something aquatic but without the frightful, foghorn chemical impression of most aquatics, and not a sliver of melon in sight. Unfortunately, pretty demure sillage – I feel I’d run through a bottle in about 20-30 wears.

    24th April, 2014

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    Bombay Bling by Neela Vermeire

    BB is bang up to date – dayglo and juicy, this would be pure Bollywood were it not done with such sophistication. Indians love their frooti smells, and here’s a perfume worthy of that love. The mango that opens it makes me go weak in the knees – so light, delicate and fresh, like the rarest varieties which seem more perfume than fruit almost. And to offer support with the rosy siren song of litchi and the tart, green, almost pissy edge of blackcurrant is a masterstroke. Long after these three headliners have blended into each other this creation just keeps smiling and waggling its saucy hips. There are hints of dirt in the mix, like drinking a Mangola on the pavement wet with monsoon rain and wafts of blossom like frangipane and jasmine that breeze through rather than overwhelm.
    BB was the least liked of Neela Vermeire’s launch trio – a shame really, as it’s such a happy-go-lucky thing.
    Projection is modest.

    24th April, 2014

    rating


    Une Rose Chyprée by Tauer

    A rose so heavily bracketed by the spice and citrus at the top and the labdanum rich resinous base, that it’s actually not quite a rose anymore. The overwhelming impression I am left with is of something pleasurable, wearable, warm and dense but somewhat undifferentiated, once the notes have blended after the first few minutes. Leaning more heavily in the ‘oriental’ direction and with good tenacity yet contained sillage, it’s not in the Tauer top ranks for me. The main drawback is the density – everything seems so thoroughly blended that it misses an enlivening quality, slumping on the sofa rather than kicking its heels.

    24th April, 2014

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    Love by By Kilian

    An orange blossom modulated via plastic-wrapped notes of vanilla, iris, sugar and bathed in icky fresh ‘musk’, this is surprisingly likeable. Sure it’s bland and will make your teeth rot, but it’s also compelling as a marshmallow and meringue supernova ought to be. The key to its strange beauty seems to be a studied fakeness that doesn’t give a damn.

    24th April, 2014

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    1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums

    A cloud of rum, sweat and cured tobacco hanging around it, 1740 cracks a mean leather whip. Bold, dense, yet perfectly judged, it’s the kind of potion I admire from afar rather than take much pleasure in wearing. The curious licorice twist of patchouli married with immortelle and a certain butteriness are points of interest, but ultimately 1740 doesn’t depart much from the pedigree of this kind of grizzled, insistently heavy, salt-of-the-earth perfume (usually marketed at men) that seems particularly out of joint with the times even if one disregards silly fragrance fashions. Still, can’t fault the execution apart from the radioactive patchouli in the base.

    24th April, 2014

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    1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums

    I never thought I’d ever have occasion to write the following words ‘superbly executed anisic fougere’. For one, most anise notes leave me cold if not reaching for the paracetamol, for another, I find the fougere category probably the most unadventurous in perfumery. But this little wonder managed to convert me. Perhaps it’s because the licorice and star anise unite so sympathetically with an earthy, almost peaty vanilla and lovely dry wood tones. It’s the anchoring influence of these deeper notes that also grounds the lavender-citrus fougere chord and makes it sound anew. The entire thing is seamless. One of those perfumes you can wear without thinking too much about them; just don’t expect some fantastic voyage.

    16th April, 2014

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    Water Calligraphy by By Kilian

    Aquatic floral in the L’eau de Issey vein, though the latter is much louder, where a fug of the usual just-don’t-stop synthetic signifiers of hydrofreshness in perfumery suggests an imaginary blossom. Doesn’t blare as powerfully as some aquatics do, but anyone wanting to part with the money demanded should consider a head examination.

    16th April, 2014

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