Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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    L'Inspiratrice by Divine

    Try as I might, I cannot bring myself to layer perfume. Buried somewhere in my mind is a deep-rooted taboo against compromising the integrity of even third-rate compositions. The opening of L’inspiratrice made me think about layering, for it emerges like two perfumes side by side. One is a soft, boozy, lipsticky patchouli that’s been feeding on tonka; the other is a bright, almost sour, raspberryish rose. They play with each other without really achieving the union (ecstatic or otherwise) of other rose-patchouli combos, but that isn’t a criticism; I enjoyed the two distinct personalities travelling in this particular carriage tremendously, hoping both would want to keep in touch at the end of the ride.
    The bridge however gets crossed by the patchouli, which by now mellows further, picking up a vanillic sweetness and powder. What’s left of the rose is a mere blush. L’inspiratrice in the drydown positively purrs with contentment on my skin.
    However, about four hours in, all one is left with is somewhat musty baby powder which fortunately sits close to the skin, so it is safe to reapply and start the journey again.

    09 April, 2013

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    Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal

    Deftly executed lemon-mint combo with swipe of the meaty-sweaty immortelle underneath. Progression is towards a sweet lemony air freshening product. Light, refreshing and summery but I couldn’t get the fir notes that are supposed to be in here and I do think they would have made a difference, adding a touch of depth and texture. Nice enough, but I was thinking ‘Next’ on the very first wear which is never a good sign.

    09 April, 2013

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    Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi

    One heck of a flurry of powder, like inhabiting a perfumed snow globe. That it has immediate impact is evidenced by it being the top-selling perfume in two perfumeries devoted to niche here in the Netherlands. The owner of one of them told me that customers who buy it love its cuddliness and its sociability – it performs well at parties where they can expect interested enquiries about which perfume they’re wearing.
    For something that is all about diffuseness and abstraction, Teint de Neige has plenty of strength and character. For under the tenacious wavering powdery tendrils is an equally wavering and shifting harmony of florals (the rose foremost, almost juicy and with a touch of green, but also other sympathetic blooms), almond tones of heliotrope, sweet tonka and of course a gale of musk blowing though it to really push forward the impression of a perfumed haze.
    There’s a family resemblance to Brosseau’s Ombre Rose, which is not to detract from the originality of Teint de Neige. All that powder does come with a small price attached – there’s a chemical undertow to the experience of this perfume that may put some off.

    09 April, 2013

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    Oud Stars : Fars by Xerjoff

    Fars has received the least comment of the Oud Stars. Is it because in attempting something a bit different it actually comes across as quite familiar? Let me explain...
    The intention was to make a West meets East kind of perfume, combining the essentially European notes of bergamot and lavender with the heavier nagarmotha and oud. The marriage seems to be blessed, as the resulting creation is exquisitely wearable, though also recognizably Eastern – one suspects many an attar merchant could have something a bit similar in their wares.
    The most striking aspect of Fars is how easily the lavender floats over the oud – I think this may be because there is great dynamism in the heart and base notes here, the notes positively shoot up the nostrils. The impression is bit like the strongly scented arecanut (supari) sold on the Indian subcontinent, with a splash of acetone thrown in for good measure. The main thing is that it’s bewitching and addictive, a bit like (whisper it!) a Montale oud. Geranium at the heart which combines really well with sandalwood probably contributes much to the forward motion of this (if you’ve encountered this accord in Czech and Speake’s No 88 you’ll know what I’m on about).
    All in all, an oud with personality and punch, that can be worn comfortably in warm weather.

    09 April, 2013

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    Shooting Stars: Dhajala by Xerjoff

    Dhajala starts off dressed in gold and light and ends in a brown shade.
    The opening is clear and appealing: fruity and nectarous, equal parts juicy pineapple and gum drop. The notes don’t really explain the sensation, except that one of the mystery base notes tonkiphora balsam turns out to be a co-distillation of benzoin and opoponax, and oppoponax often has a candied orange aspect – but I’m guessing. However, try to locate the jasmine, pink pepper or some of the other notes and you’ll probably need to imagine them – yep, this is thoroughly blended.
    We are in a kind of Badgley Mischka ballpark in terms of genre – golden, dripping, juicy seductive fruitiness – even though Dhajala has no specific resemblance to the former.
    The drydown has almondy hints of heliotropin and a seriously mellow amber; here the sensation is even more seriously blended, this is perfumery of the triple-milled variety. (One of the base notes is Myroswelia balsam – a lolly for anyone who can tell me what this creature is, the great god Google proclaims ignorance.) Much of the lusciousness that was so tempting is gone and Dhajala becomes quite sedate and disappointingly soft.
    So, although a pleasing wear from start to finish, Dhajala lacks that something ravishing that would make me want to part with the cash required.

    09 April, 2013

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    Casamorati 1888 Dama Bianca by Xerjoff

    Another Xerjoff vanilla of considerable class, this time with a creamy quality that reminds me of soap and scented candles. While Dama Bianca is a cosy, comforting creation, the whiteout vanilla billowing up through a froth of musks and iris, one misses a touch of counterpoint or two that would give this perfume somewhat more complexity (though Xerjoff would claim otherwise – ‘Dama bianca is [a] sumptuous bouquet of femininity with undertones of warmth and complexity’ according to their website). The mid-section rounds out the experience a little with veiled florals, the kind that one senses as a presence rather than identifies. A hint of malty tones and a touch of velvety sandal in the base add to this perfume’s sympathetic, easy-to-wear character. Accomplished in a spun sugar kind of way: subtle, simple and moreish.

    09 April, 2013

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    Carolina by Olympic Orchids

    The overriding initial impression was of a bottle of pine extract spilled in a new age shop. Fortunately there’s a bit more to Carolina than that – wait a quarter of an hour or so and lovely sweetish hay and grassy notes start to enliven the rather severe pine. Now we are headed for the outdoors and freedom. However the resinous sharpness of the pine is a challenge over the course of the wear – it seems to wipe out anything else that’s going on here. So Carolina is not on my itinerary.

    09 April, 2013

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    Casamorati 1888 Bouquet Ideale by Xerjoff

    A vanilla of great sonorous depth – dark, rounded, bittersweet: I was captivated from the first sniff. A creation that demonstrates how the idea of vanilla is misused to describe unimaginative carnal activity when the real thing has such warm erotic folds.
    Apart from the feel that one has just split open a moist pod, the undercurrent of pipe tobacco gives it a slightly brandied air and there is a lovely gooey coumarin-tonka note that sits perfectly. The spices are gauzy and subdued, initially giving the impression of the lightest dusting of something radiant like saffron rather than the nutmeg and cinnamon mentioned in the issued notes. A few hours in tones of sandalwood and split bamboo shade into the mix.
    A thing of rare beauty with a few drawbacks (apart from the bankrupting Xerjoff pricing) – (i) the timidity of its projection at the beginning which improves considerably over time; (ii) it becomes a bit more of a familiar vanilla after the four hour mark.

    09 April, 2013

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    Bamboo Harmony by By Kilian

    Fresh as a breeze with a lightly gingered white tea opening through which just a glint of golden neroli peeks through. This is a perfume of subtle accents and hints, lovely fresh grassy tones, oh-so-gentle aquatic elements, the possibility of fig leaves. And yet it is no sylvan idyll, but seems to have Spa product written all over it – perhaps this is a failing of the fresh tea genre. One cannot resist the sneaking suspicion that one may do just as well with an Elizabeth Arden or Yves Rocher offering, though I must admit to lacking any enthusiasm to test out this hypothesis!
    The deep drydown is a fuzzy sweet disappointment – and could belong to any number of drugstore ʼfumes.

    09 April, 2013

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    Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio

    A fine ‘wide open spaces’ peppery cedar opening with sharp lemon-n-pine tones which soon (like within 15 minutes) turns into a characterless dry, slightly sour, woody haze that smells ever more synthetic as the hours wear on. If outfits like Olfactive Studio didn’t spend most of their energy branding themselves to levels of aching coolness and diverted it instead into the creation of perfumes of distinction we’d be talking. But with fumes like Autoportrait , which is not entirely unpleasant just a terminal bore, it’s perhaps better to stay silent.

    09 April, 2013

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    1873 by Histoires de Parfums

    Refreshing, light and airy citrus with a grapefruit tang to begin with. Sure there’s cat piss in the mix, but that’s all part of the grapefruit spectrum and frankly bothers me less than the poverty of ambition on display. There’s a touch of violet leaf, but in the main the green aspects seem to be struggling to express themselves. Within hours we’re down to a skin hugging base which is mainly pee over a trace of vanilla.

    09 April, 2013

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    1826 by Histoires de Parfums

    If the scent of someone who doesn’t have to try too hard – you know the kind, blessed with charm, good looks and unearned wealth (the bastards!) – could be bottled, this may be it. It seems to be effortlessly graceful without striking affected poses. Soft-focus in feel, the blonde wood notes are rounded and supple, the musks (although listed as the dreaded ‘white musks’) are airy but gratifyingly luxurious, the patchouli is a silken murmur, little glints of anise (a note I have a very low tolerance for) pop up like flecks of white nougat, a barely there gingery spice brings a trace of angelic perspiration to the brow: the whole is poised and natural seeming.
    The trail is modest, but it’s kind of hard to see this working at a more amped-up level.
    Suffers from that plague of modern perfumery which is so prevalent it seems barely worth mentioning – Drydown Dulldown. Here after a couple of hours, 1826 turns into a pleasant but nondescript woody musk – all the fun’s been had.

    09 April, 2013

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    Oud Stars : Al-Khatt by Xerjoff

    Belongs to the mercifully small category of jasmines drowned in syrup, the point of which somewhat escapes me. All vitality is sucked out of the floral scent in order to squash it under the weighty backside of something unrelentingly sweet. The lino glue tones of the opening didn’t do much to help either. Why this is an Oud Star is a bit of a mystery, anything resembling oud is submerged.

    09 April, 2013

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    Beloved by Amouage

    The high shelf upon which Gold Woman and Ubar were perched was looking a bit lonely, so Amouage decided to release another BIG floral, Beloved. Goodness, this is gorgeous. Yet again Amouage demonstrates it can deliver the kind of rich, destabilizing but perfectly wearable perfumes that one felt had vanished by the last quarter of the twentieth century.
    The opening thrills with a burst of liquerish intensity, resinous vapours rising from within; there’s a touch of Aromatics Elixir about it. But that’s a short fanfare after which it’s mainly about the florals, rose (what a rose!) and jasmine underpinned with something like bitter marzipan (probably a combination of the patchouli, vanilla, benzoin and some of the animalic notes) and a whisper of sandalwood smoke. The depth of the floral heart is incredible, but it doesn’t have quite the volume that can make Gold or Ubar occasional perfumes. No, this Beloved is much easier to approach and love. Eventually the entire thing relaxes upon its resins and powders, the notes that went before settled comfortably, sharing the gifts of each other’s company, moving into dreamy abstraction.
    Amouage has priced this one shockingly high (even by their standards); time to stock up on the much more affordable 2 ml testers.

    14 January, 2013

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    Felanilla 21 by Parfumerie Generale

    Custard in a plastic bowl, with someone irresistibly chic serving up the first spoonful.
    What a gorgeous iris this is, vegetal yet tinged with sweetness, smooth as silk and new plastic. It’s bounded by perfectly judged vanilla – dry as a husk, almost tobacco-like, a tad bitter and warm. The iris-vanilla heart accord is the main show here for me. Other aspects that count are a touch of hay for air and openness, and a tiny drop of amber to bed it down. Has an altogether effortless loveliness about it, let down somewhat by its refusal to rise much above one’s skin.
    Over time the vanilla steals the dance with the amber amping up, so we are left with something in the Shalimar mould with shades of Tauerade. This late stage is less original, but still pleasant to wear.

    14 January, 2013

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    Cartier de Lune by Cartier

    Peppery trill to open, followed by the most generic floral wash. This perfume is meant to be ‘ephemeral’ according to the advertising – well, one can’t say we weren’t warned: it’s barely there and yet annoyingly still there as the day wears on. What Cartier declares as ‘the wonder of white flowers in the moonlight’ is mainly a vague pinkish rose and what passes for lily of the valley in the mainstream. The musk in the base smells like new vinyl flooring or what one imagines ozone might smell like. None of this is actively unpleasant; it’s just completely unremarkable, the perfume equivalent of budget white bread.

    14 January, 2013

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    Greene Street by Etro

    Ah – suddenly I’m half my current weight, 20 years younger, not a grey hair in sight, and striding through a buzzing neighbourhood wearing an open-necked, crisp white linen shirt. Any perfume that makes that fantasy pop up is doing something right.
    Greene Street has a sense of dynamism about it which I suspect comes from a well-judged balance between fresh tones (some of them green) and the depth charge of spices. Add to the mix powdery and soapy facets, and I’m probably making this sound like a real no-no. But the end result is salubrious with a capital S, enough to put a spring in my step and ready to take on the day. Its volume is also well-judged, present but not overwhelming.
    I’m not making any claims that Greene Street is wildly original; I’m sure better educated noses will identify a dozen fresh spicy ‘masculines’ which it reminds them of. It just does well what it does.

    14 January, 2013

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    Secret Oud by Caron

    Underappreciated on the perfume forums, Secret Oud carries on a Caron tradition of perfumery marvels that stay off the mainstream radar.
    If you like your oud packing a mighty (synthetic) wallop, this isn’t for you. If you can’t bear something going by the name of oud which doesn’t touch the (rather squidgy) bases of faeces and stilton, this is so not for you.
    Some have complained of this perfume vanishing after a couple of hours; I get a full day’s wear, no problem.
    The opening of this beauty rings a perfect oudy note, a hypnotic sweet woodiness that unfurls around the wearer with swirls and eddies – an olfactory fractal. There is a hint of turpentine, a touch of saffron, but mainly this is the wood of dreams – warm, comforting, a cupboard I’d happily get locked in. The evolution is towards greater roundness and gentleness, with the resinous aspects relaxing and receding and a diffuse rosiness spreading like a faint blush.
    Does this do something radical and unexpected with oud? No. Secret Oud takes the mesmerizing lure of its main accord and showcases it calmly against sympathetic supporting tones with a breath-taking sophistication. It is reminiscent of Middle Eastern attars, but remains a ‘Western’ perfume in its balance and light touch. It is old money through and through, polished and elegant, with no desire to raise its voice. It stands naked because it quite without flaw.

    26 December, 2012

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    Hothouse Flower by Ineke

    A lily-jasmine fragrance, clear as a pane of glass. A few verdant touches (which also read a bit like nail polish remover) at the start make it airy and it does a nice cool-warm thing, making it an option in most weathers. I approach white florals with caution as they tend to tip me over, but I find Hothouse Flower to be quite without consequences. An undertone of buttery, coconutty creaminess doesn’t burden the overall mood of simplicity and light.
    All the fun is in the first few hours, however, after which this flower is headed straight down a pretty crowded tuberose alley.

    26 December, 2012

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    1889 Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

    Like Joan Crawford about to throw a major wobbly, this is all caked make-up (plenty of lippy, please) and fruity alcohol at the beginning. Its audacity in telling the consumer ‘You will like me’ is total but quite right; it makes me chuckle at the absurdity of wearing something like this, yet had me in its dishevelled embrace from the off.
    The overall lowish volume is probably a result of balancing the two main actors, patchouli, which tends to holler, and iris, which prefers to whisper. But they are contained successfully, casting a range of powdery, dusky, earthy, doughy tones at each other. The grounding notes of vanilla and leather in the base are similarly subdued giving a feeling of warmth and sensuality without being overbearing, like lovers touching skin on skin while drowsing together. So far, so disarming.
    Great for about four hours, after which this is mainly rubbery and faintly sweet.
    (I have seen this compared to Annick Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille. Important points of difference are: Cheri is much heavier, more formal, stately and dark as a blackout; its patchouli is much denser, earthy and vegetal. I love it, but have to find occasions to wear it; Moulin Rouge on the other hand requires little preparation – just wear it and laugh.)

    26 December, 2012

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    Gold Woman by Amouage

    This one bore a family resemblance to Nahema (particularly in the drydown), so I had to go and spray them side by side and compare. There are differences of course – Gold is less sweet at the start, has none of the explosive velocity of Nahema’s top, has the clean frankincense (that rapidly fades) which is the Amouage signature, has a greater suggestion of sandalwood in the base with none of the almond. But it still smells derivative and without the exuberance of the earlier creation. The white florals were a bit lost on me, this being mainly about the aldehydic rose, so the huge bouquet that others get from this was flung beyond my reach. It’s lovely, no doubt about it, and belongs to a pull-out-all-stops school of perfumery that occasionally can achieve such grandeur.
    On second thoughts…
    On the other hand, given cool weather and clean skin, this blooms beautifully and offers a little glimpse of heaven. I have been truly surprised by how this claims its own space over repeat wearings – becoming reassuringly familiar without losing its luxurious feel. All comparisons with Nahema seem beside the point now.
    On third thoughts…
    I spray on wayyyy too much one day (spending it at home on my own) and am in pulsating bliss. I walk through the rooms feeling ‘I am da Gold bomb’.

    20th December, 2012

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    Poivre Piquant by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L’Artisan seem to specialize in soft, soft, soft skin scents that work beautifully on the days when one doesn’t feel like wearing something ponderous. This is about as piquant as a cherub’s kiss, though there is a petulant burst of pepper at the start. But it turns good-humoured almost instantly to hop, skip and jump gaily over a cuddly and playful milky-soapy-floral accord. An all-weather scent which is distinctive enough to become your own rather than blend into a lake of bland.

    14 December, 2012

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    Silver Cologne by Amouage

    Unabashedly perfumey with all lalas out. The opening blast can be overpowering: rich, warm fruity tones, sumptuous florals, soft powdery woods (sandal mainly), and plenty of lift. However, this kind of all out thrust can only work at the amplification at which it is encountered here – water it down and it becomes something second rate and pointless (a bit like listening to Sun O))) with the volume turned down).
    The languid heart accord of ylang and heliotrope lends a solemn air to what is a pretty slinky beast. And the base, which seems to have the best of old school Guerlain powders shimmering within it, retains an air of mystery. Silvery it is, in the sense of the mercurial play of light on the pelt of a black jaguar, a creature of potency and grace. Curiously, seems to freshen as it ages on the skin.

    14 December, 2012

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    Patchouli Patch by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Powdery, silky patchouli with impeccable manners, despite a hint of booze on its breath. No obnoxious ‘look at me’ tantrums; instead a sweet subtlety underpinned with a slight touch of sweat and wood. Refined, relaxed, wears like an aura. May possibly disappoint patchouli die-hards.

    14 December, 2012

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    Oud by Robert Piguet

    An ‘almost but not quite’ kind of scent that has glimpses of greatness but doesn’t get close enough to realizing them. This seems to be a problem with quite a few of the new Piguets when measured against the stature of the first reformulated releases.
    To elaborate: there’s a brief burst of something green and perhaps even a bit of aldehydic fizz which is an unusual treatment for an oud theme; the oud itself is quite subdued, purring softly in a corner rather than emerging from the lavatory or ripping off its shirt in a clumsy come on; there are sweet balsamic elements. Something sophisticated is being attempted here but the results don't quite gel. Once the drydown is established one is left with a curious sweet and medicinal/plasticine smell – perhaps this is the band-aid scent which some people complain about in ouds but which I had never encountered before.
    Great longevity and reach, now if only the juice excited me a bit more.

    14 December, 2012

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    Alyssa Ashley Musk by Alyssa Ashley

    Pleasant but, like fake snow, utterly devoid of character.
    The ‘cleanness’ of white musk with its laundry room air is mainly to blame, here paired with body lotion florals (mainly a powdery rose) and, if you try really hard, a minuscule amount of something that reads as a green citrus. Sweet and bland, would be just fine as a deodorant, but is something of a disgrace to the idea of a perfume.

    14 December, 2012

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    Casbah by Robert Piguet

    Heavily spiced creations can be too much for me, even in cold weather. It’s their dusty, pungent, staleness that becomes too great a weight to be carrying around. Combining heavy floral notes with spices is sometimes redemptive in a knock-out way, more often it just envelopes the wearer in a miasma.
    Casbah takes a different route and I was surprised at how much I liked it when I first smelled it on a card. On my skin it quickly scattered pepper and nutmeg but with a green marigold-like vibrancy that complemented and lifted the spices. The incense is not smoky, but sharp. The iris provides a vegetal cushion. Were it not for the overall dryness, this would convey a spice forest mood, one I could quite happily visit from time to time. In its animation and its array of sharp notes it offers a different turn to the spice route.
    However, flattens considerably after a couple of hours into a subdued, almost floury, nutmeg which is a bit of a yawn.

    14 December, 2012

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    Cardinal by Heeley

    An airy, cool, virginal, sour incense. It’s a peculiar thing to do to incense, the harbinger of warmth in numerous middle eastern perfumes, but here resolutely crossing a chilly stone floor. Turin remarks on the citrus in this, but to my nose the sharp notes appear to be from the edgier parts of the cedar-vetiver spectrum.
    Anyhoo, this is yet another clever, curious composition from Heeley, if bearing his trademark aloofness and linearity (though towards the end of its active life the progression is towards the vetiver base). I imagine the days when my dirty mind will be in tune with this fragrance’s supremely chaste aura will be few and far between, but there is much to like here.

    14 December, 2012

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    Bois Noir by Robert Piguet

    Straight-down-the-middle woody, which balances sharp, dry notes with sweeter aspects nicely, and has a natural feel. Unfortunately that’s all there is to it. Still, it’s a relief to come across a woody perfume these days and be reminded more of the real thing rather than the nostril-drying super aromachemicals so frequently encountered. Bois Noir could be comfortable everyday wear for the unadventurous and is probably safe to wear on a flight, but for those of us who seek the furthest vistas of perfumery’s horizon, there’s bound to be a ‘so what?’ moment pretty soon. A lovely wooden chest, but don’t go seeking the mystique promised by the ‘noir’ appellation. Wears light but perceptible.

    26 October, 2012

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    Jubilation 25 by Amouage

    Sometimes a perfume of such concentration and so resolutely un-modern requires a degree of daring from the wearer, the vogue (admittedly only among the perfume cognoscenti) for smelly ouds notwithstanding. Opens with a strong desert spice trader vibe – plenty of smoke, incense, sun-baked wood, dry myrrh, and what seems like a cinnamon-cumin combo lurking at the fringes. This is parched and powerful – the floral notes are pretty muted on my skin, but the smoke is glorious, harking back it would appear to the origins of the word ‘perfume’. I must admit initial wearings left a not entirely favourable impression. At first I thought it edged a bit too close to the souk territory of Lutens, but over the day Guerlain’s Mitsouko seemed a more persistent shadow. However, that addictive smokiness and the bitter-sweet myrrh kept calling me back and I made my peace with its contradictions: the call to spiritual purging that the temple ingredients seem to be offering, which exists side by side with an almost opiate luxuriousness.
    Certainly far butcher than the ‘male’ companion scent, which jumps to please with a wagging tail, and which I admit I wear more readily. But this is a tremendously layered composition, leaning with haughty composure over the abyss of excess.

    26 October, 2012

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