Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Gilded Lily by Ineke

    Lily-centred perfumes that celebrate the power of the scent seeping from beneath those sticky stamen usually overwhelm, just as a vase of lilies in a closed room will soon begin to fray nerves. A light hand is needed and Gilded Lily is well-measured. The floral heart is kept unclogged and away from syrup, and a further dryness is added by a chypric twist, the mossy note imparting an almost severe sophistication to the indulgence of the lily. Whereas many of the perfumes of this line come across as overly synthetic, on occasion, stridently so, Gilded Lily finally delivers the goods.

    16th April, 2014

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    Fleur de Louis by Arquiste

    A crisp orange blossom, not heady or too sweet despite jasmine in a supporting role, this stuff wears starched white linen. Clean, cool and cologne-like, this is competent if a bit banal. My pulse resolutely refuses to race.

    16th April, 2014

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    Essence de Patchouli by Alyssa Ashley

    A sweetish patchouli (though some of the vegetal aspects are in the background) coupled with dark vanilla and a woodsy base makes a suitably grown up combination. What starts as a dusting of powder soon morphs into a plasticky-lipsticky note rounding things out. Appealing though that may be, Essence de Patchouli remains firmly stranded in the mid-regions of the scale of perfume genius: a decent idea with alright execution of the kind which fans usually support with ‘good at this price’ noises.

    16th April, 2014

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    1804 by Histoires de Parfums

    For a perfume I found pretty lacklustre once it settled, 1804 had a marvellous beginning: the most succulent pineapple, both tart and sweet, lively enough to win over those who view fruity perfumes with an arched brow.
    However, that impression fades fairly swiftly, the fruit first getting denser and syrupy, then drying out into a flatter sweetness where, had the spice been a bit more evident or the flowers more pronounced, things could still have remained interesting. As it is, I was left with a pretty inert sweet residue and some traces of vanilla with no trail to speak of.

    07th March, 2014

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    Interlude Woman by Amouage

    It’s been a while since I’ve been so wrongfooted by a perfume and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. If Interlude Man was little more (for me) than being in close proximity to a pizzeria oven, Interlude Woman actually lives up to the ‘chaos and quiet moment’ spiel spun by Amouage’s PR.
    At times it comes across as intensely dry, salty and resinous but glinting with all kinds of goodies. But more usually that dry resinous vibe is lifted from within by juicy, greenish florals (the marigold, for sure) and unreal fruity tones – kiwi anyone? Now and then a hint of honey, but never too rich, and balanced by tart lemon. And the leather lurking deep within, soft and rosy, a kid glove caressing your cheek.
    Despite its swirl of notes, Interlude Woman is perfectly pitched – wearing neither too light nor too heavy, and for all its oddity it just feels right and finished: I would not want to add or subtract anything here. Ms Spehner has delivered something utterly unique with this one and has become a perfumer whose work I feel compelled to follow.
    Two further remarkable things about it. One is the presentation of the immortelle – desiccated, singed by frankincense smoke and spiked with citrus. This has none of the piggy, sweaty, maple syrupy echoes that can overwhelm, yet is unmistakeably immortelle. Second is the frankincense, a trademark Amouage note, but here, threading its way so lightly through the composition, giving many of the other notes encouragement and support.
    I’m not sure how much bystanders will appreciate it, but I love a perfume that takes me places and this is one. A contemporary classic.

    07th March, 2014

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    Sì by Giorgio Armani

    The fruity cupcake tendency in perfumes seeking to enhance feminine allures is most unfortunate – but I’m biased, as I dislike mixing food and sex. Maybe I’ve got it wrong and Sì and its legion are aimed more at comfort eaters (to whose ranks I belong, but still this perfume doesn’t do it for me).
    At any rate this is an overconfected affair. A pleasing start of brisk blackcurrant, voluptuous rose and some burnished vanilla soon gets swamped by such a dose of sweets (including some serious mango-like goo) that escape is desirable. To make matters worse the drydown is a rush of cheap-smelling musks and ambroxan with the slightly pissy blackcurrant valiantly trying to assert itself with intermittent squeaks for a while before giving up the ghost. I’ll admit this does get somewhat moreish after about half a day’s wear – but still, Non.

    07th March, 2014

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    Les Déserts d'Orient - Rose Nacrée du Desert by Guerlain

    A beautifully realized dry, woody and spiced rose perfume that unmistakeably gestures towards Arabia – one can almost hear the maqam in the background. A rare, desiccated thing, pitched just right, not smelling fusty like many oud accords do, not overwhelming in its power, the various components rising to the nostrils like a most civilized yet exotic vapour. Guerlain claim the Western debut of the Persian rose of Iran in this perfume, but equally impressive is the soft as velvet patchouli used, all combined with wood shavings, a touch of saffron, cardamom, to sophisticated effect.
    Late in the wear the patchouli does become increasingly prominent as is its wont, so that this becomes similar to other rose-patchouli creations with the other elements receded somewhat. Still, a fine outing, though the ho-hum later stages do make the price point questionable.

    07th March, 2014

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    Amber Oud by Nicolaï

    A frisky lavender sitting atop a fruity flavoured hard-boiled candy base, this is an unimpressive companion to the much more assured Rose Oud launched simultaneously by Nicolaï. May be appreciated by a certain demographic (fans of Aventus, 1 Million, here’s looking at you), but to me it’s a big yawn. Why it’s got oud in its name beats me. Unimpeachable projection.

    07th March, 2014

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    Eau Divine by Divine

    A perfume of two halves. The top is a cheerful citrus: refreshing, natural-smelling and juicy, but also woefully underpowered, like an after shower body spray. The base is a peppery violet of greater persistence but sadly somewhat generic and not as enticing as the citrus.

    21st February, 2014

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    Déjà Le Printemps (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    Exquisitely windblown green. The placement of the mint note is nothing short of amazing – right up front but tossed up in a tumult of twigs and grass that banishes any associations with toothpaste; this is real, living, breathing, crawling-to-conquer-your-garden mint. It takes no getting used to (unlike say Herba Fresca), it fits right in.
    A slight sharp chypric stab of moss recedes a bit too quickly for my taste, to be replaced by balmy tones bolstering the green – mainly soothing chamomile and fig leaf sap. A soft scent for a season associated with new growth and tender buds after the barren chill of winter, this is an idyllic green – airy, with nothing poisonous lurking in the undergrowth, and nothing strident in the mix. The cedar backbone gets a bit more evident after a few hours, with ultimately more of a fig leaf, dry vetiver and cedar base left at the end of the day. This phase is fine but unexceptional.
    Long-lasting, light and natural, it best suits days when one craves something simple and not too perfumey.

    21st February, 2014

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    Cinabre by Maria Candida Gentile

    A powerful opening where huge gusts of sweet rosiness blow through veils of pepper. A squirt of ginger juice keeps things lively. Gentile is, if nothing, bold with her roses – unafraid to make them intensely sweet. But somehow they do not get the syrupy, stewed quality that other concentrated rose odours can acquire – they stay true.
    In Cinabre the resins (bezoin, oppoponax) grow more prominent as the perfume evolves, the purpose being to realize a perfect myrrh according to Gentile. This is a bit of a shame as the feel of the perfume ages dramatically, becoming somewhat powdery, a touch medicinal, the roses drying all the while.
    I cannot resist a comparison with the heavenly Sideris where a plump sweet rose scent is balanced beautifully by a sharp and silvery incense, the combination strong, startling and yet easy to wear. Cinabre (which was launched in the same year) shares quite a bit of Sideris’s gene pool but cannot match its perfection. It leaves a fine trail which is somehow more floral than when smelled on skin and is pleasing in its own right, just not the first one to go for from this house if you’re a rose lover.

    21st February, 2014

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    Opus VII by Amouage

    A quiet hall in which the organ suddenly hammers out a complex chord da-daaa that makes the hair on the back of one’s neck stand on end. Opus VII’s start is a bit like that – rich, dense, crowded with overlapping notes, but yet the overall effect while difficult to pin down is startlingly beautiful.
    A dry, spicy, green and smoky scent with tones of skin and sweat lurking underneath, the whole hangs assuredly together. I suspect one’s experience of Opus VII will depend on one’s mood – it is not a perfume to be worn lightly. If busy and rushed, it is likely the spices, of which there is a hefty dose, will predominate and raise anxiety levels. If relaxed, this will seem like a summer’s walk through parched greenery that is crying out for rain, the scents of bark and roots and drying leaves mixing with the more herbal and vegetal aspects. Strangely, the mood Opus VII seems to suit best is introspection bordering on melancholy, when all its layers and layers of notes rise and fall in one’s perception offering their own counterpoint to the thought process.
    There are echoes of spicy designer ‘masculines’, but here those elements are pushed towards an expressiveness that is all their own. The deep base is much more spice centred, the raw shock of the galbanum all but receded – at this stage, when Opus VII seems to be all about brute force, I lose interest.

    21st February, 2014

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    My Ylang by Caron

    A soufflé perfume insofar as all the notes are lightly handled, including the vanilla. My Ylang begins as an object lesson in gentleness and restraint, but sadly dwindles into ordinariness after a few hours of pleasure.
    So, what goes on in those hours? Infused with a whipped cream floral sweetness, this creation showcases ylang (against a background of other floral notes) without indolic heaviness, bringing its familiar almost fruity tones out further with a touch of mandarin and a breezy muguet. Definitely a fruity floral in mood – those who break out in a rash at the very mention of this category should still give it try as all the elements are judiciously arranged and the abstract quality does not have the usual synthetic drone underlying it. At this stage My Ylang is the kind of perfume I wish mainstream perfumeries would stock, so that customers could see how the sweet and fruity fare they’re usually offered can be done so much better.
    But alas, things go downhill after that impressive first act – it develops a kind of clove-like warmth which makes things a bit jammy – not my taste. And then turns into a tame white floral (I kept thinking tuberose) for the rest of its life, which is a disappointment, too. The trail is modest throughout.

    21st February, 2014

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    Miss Dior Le Parfum by Christian Dior

    The marriage of the depth chords patchouli and vanilla to a somewhat unreal orange produces an off effect at the heart of this perfume. It’s as if it were a spinning top that has entered its wobbling phase before it will roll over and lie on its side, except here it is doomed to wobble on and on.
    The rest is pretty assured if not terribly original – a soft luxurious blended quality, demure florals, edible sweetness – the mainstays of countless recent ‘feminines’. Once the arrhythmia at its heart calms down, one is left with a pretty nondescript mushed up sweetness.

    21st February, 2014

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    10 Corso Como by 10 Corso Como

    A fragrance that has apparently had glory days but the present iteration is a rather flat if pleasant sandalwood with sweet breath and somewhat sweaty edges. Disregard the alcoholic opening, 10 Corso Como soon settles into its mild woodsy smile which it holds for the length of its stay. A bit of a plain Dwayne.

    21st February, 2014

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    Mensonge by Fragonard

    Fleeting hesperidic top, after which this settles on a rounded and smooth spicy (light clove) and woody (sandal and cedar) base. So discreet it is less backdoor lover, more reception bore – but I am forced to admit this is better than I want it to be. After about four hours all that’s left is a small pile of wood shavings in the corner.

    21st February, 2014

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    Chemical Bonding by Ineke

    Eminently forgettable citrus followed by thrift shop tea combo – the tea note is so insistently artificial that it bleaches the citrus notes of all vitality and one is left with the odour of some strong cleaning agent on one’s skin. This embarrassment barely deserves to be called a perfume, yet there are plenty more of its ilk around, which makes me wonder why perfumers bother turning out yet more.

    21st February, 2014

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    Love and Tears by By Kilian

    The essential jasmineness of Love and Tears cannot be denied or withstood – indeed, there seems to be little else in the mix, the other components placed far in the background. It’s a living, fresh jasmine, successfully executed, but ultimately of interest only to fans of the little white flowers who may want to give the impression they’re carrying a bush secreted about their person.

    20th February, 2014

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    Boss Orange by Hugo Boss

    A light cologne-style orange blossom firmly in the middle of the road, which is no bad place to be if you’re a mass market fragrance. However soon morphs into the washing up liquid version, losing any residue of casual chic. The smell of someone who devotes their life to a spotless kitchen?

    20th February, 2014

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    Liaisons Dangereuses by By Kilian

    I had to jump a few hurdles for this one. First, anything this sweet needs to be doing something extremely polished or daring to go beyond the baseline ‘humans like sweeties so let’s give it to them’ assumption. I’m not sure LD delivers – this is a cooked rose with the fresh aspects steamed right out of it. Then there were little glimpses of the much more provocative L’Ombre dans l’Eau – any perfume combining rose, geranium and blackcurrant is likely to evoke its ghost – but without the bracing slap of foliage that jerks me awake every time I try L’Ombre. Finally, this sits too close to my skin and I keep feeling tempted to top it up.
    However, once I’ve accepted these challenges, I am left considering a finely balanced rose-prominent perfume in which the inclusion of the faintly nutty skin-like tones of ambrette provide a human warmth and fleshiness.
    Please, ignore the name – sauciness and danger do not come to mind.

    20th February, 2014

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    Bois d'Oud by Perris Monte Carlo

    Dry, dark, dusty wood with touches of sweetish suede and hints of dry fruit. Faded rose petals crumble about it. Lived in and somewhat musty.
    Has a shut in feel, so claustrophobics beware.
    The oud is of a recognizable sort (something similar is in Dueto’s City Love) and I imagine this is one synthetic we’ll come across more and more.
    It’s modest, un-fresh and a satisfying wear, if not exactly breaking new ground. An oud one can don and not be distracted by. Plumps out and opens up surprisingly in the deep drydown.
    Perris is based in Monaco, the juice made in Italy, and the thrift store bling of the bottles is aimed straight at the Middle Eastern market.

    20th February, 2014

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    Rose Oud by Nicolaï

    If Patricia de Nicolaï’s stated desire of using agarwood while ‘retaining the tradition of French elegance’ can be interpreted as a nod towards a classicist tendency, that intention is immaculately realized in Rose Oud. This is a perfume that is completely assured from top to bottom, strong but deliciously balanced, swirling in powders, musks and patchouli but so much the better for it. It could have been created a hundred years ago or yesterday, such is its rightness – the perfumer knew exactly what she was doing.
    A classy entry into the woody floral category (which I must admit to having a soft spot for) the base of this perfume is completely old money – refined, gracious, yet assertive, with a touch of animalic dirt and the satin sheen of sandalwood. This well-orchestrated base supports the star of the show – a beautiful deep rose inflected with light berry notes and the deeper fruity balsamic character of artemisia, which dries somewhat by its proximity to the woody notes over the course of the wear. The (no doubt synthetic) oud note used is subtle, at first weaving in and out of that wonderful rosy harmony, a bit greasy to begin with and later more woody, evolving towards a smooth incorporation into the whole. It’s polite and doesn’t bang you on the head like some of the more bombastic attempts at deploying oud do – and no doubt there is little comparison with the intoxicating nature of the real thing. But viewed as a whole this is a seamless creation – it may not induce ecstasy but is nonetheless near perfect.

    20th February, 2014

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    Kiehl's Original Musk by Kiehl's

    This straightforward perfume filled a gap in my wardrobe that I didn’t realize I had until I smelled it.
    As a small child in a nondescript central Indian city, one of the highpoints of the day used to be the unusual peddlers who popped up occasionally. The tall turbaned Afghan man all the way from Kabul who turned up on a ramshackle bike with a disc-like woven reed basket on either side was one. He never visited more than once a year. With his impressive moustache, long kameez and voluminous pyjama-like bottoms, he cut an imposing if somewhat dusty figure.
    Showing a potential customer his wares was a performance, beginning with unwrapping the larger items, bags of almonds and dried fruit, moving onto smaller containers with more exotic wares. A round metallic box would be carefully opened to reveal packed strands of saffron, their mouth-watering scent curling out into the dry air. All kinds of tests would be performed to demonstrate its authenticity, one of which involved floating a strand on water, I seem to recall. And then just once he extricated a small tin from a ball of cloth. Here was something precious and rare, he said, kastoori. Slowly unscrewing the jar, the heady perfume hit me before I could peek at what lay inside – close, sweet, warm like a stabled animal. There lay three small balls, covered in bristle, radiating this hypnotizing scent – deer musk glands. I recoiled at the sight, but that brief exposure to their scent has stayed as an indelible olfactory memory. Which is why most of what passes for musk in contemporary perfumery bemused me until I got used to the concept.
    But smelling Kiehl’s Original Musk, even though it is unlikely to have come near anything to do with a musk deer (and I wouldn’t buy it for animal cruelty reasons if it had), raised an instant echo of that childhood experience. It’s a distant echo as it can’t achieve the heady richness of the real thing, but bolstering with plenty of white floral indoles does achieve a passing effect to the warm radiance of musk. There isn’t much more to it, but it’s enough for me.

    20th February, 2014

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    Beloved Man by Amouage

    Those expecting the 10-course banquet treatment from Amouage perfumes have complained that this is a bit like getting a slice of buttered bread instead. But sometimes it’s the simpler things that satisfy and are difficult to get right – I found Beloved Man speaking to me from the very first spray.
    Despite its plethora of listed notes, the experience of this perfume is beautifully cohesive and not dense and aggressive in the manner of, say, Interlude Man. So fans of the latter and its heavy-handed ilk will remain underwhelmed.
    The key note is elemi, softly smoky, almost creamy, luxurious, resembling frankincense but without its sharpness: it’s like a purring cat rubbing itself against your cheek. Around it is a familiar (for ‘masculines’) accord of pepper and citrus, but realized with a sophistication that is miles ahead of the designer competition. The floral sweetness and woodsy backdrop are abstracted supporting notes, not the main event.
    Beloved man is safe, resolutely not flash or avant garde, but this serving of buttered bread is just delicious. However, that still does not justify the outrageous price point of this one, especially as the territory is one so well-trodden by designer offerings.

    20th February, 2014

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    Back to Black by By Kilian

    The kind of tiresome sweetiepie scent that is steadily plumping out the offerings of niche houses – little wonder as people seem to enjoy them. Back to Black is mushed up, a honey smoothie – if that’s your idea of olfactory bliss you’re welcome to it, but I prefer my perfumes with a bit more variegation. Sure there are a bunch of ingredients in there – one gets sourish fruity tones, a restrained tobacco bringing up the rear, a little vanilla – but they’re timid compared to the honey which itself seems pretty standard issue. Thankfully not loud.

    13th February, 2014

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    Relique d'Amour (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    Blown away by Relique d’Amour’s opening – a fresh and subtle lily, with the hint of spiciness that the real flowers have, set against a hallowed backdrop of church incense, burnished myrrh, and amazing woody and green pine notes. It’s like being in a secluded mountaintop chapel all alone and having a vision of grace – and I’m not even a believer!
    How a perfume that is quite modest in its projection achieves this, I do not know, but I do know that I love it. The elemi is likely a key balancing component here, adding a tang to the lily and preventing it from cloying, while enriching the pine.
    A bit of a shame that the evolution is mainly towards a limpid, near transparent lily with the other notes receding quite a bit, but still beautiful and joyous. Has an active life of about 5-6 hours after which there are only traces left.

    13th February, 2014

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    Hedonist by Viktoria Minya

    A curtain of seriously honeyed boozy vanilla which gently sways apart from time to time to let in a breeze scented with spring blossom. The effect is utterly original but it takes a serious amount of craving to wear something so sweet it’s almost suppurating. With time the vanilla fades out somewhat and the heart of pulpy peach and apricot mixed with orange blossom begins to pulse, introducing an edge of tartness. There’s a pore-clogging richness to Hedonist, but as the sillage is moderate, it won’t offend.
    I’m still trying to pin down a curious, sour, old makeup note in the dry-down which seems to jar at times and at others seems to be an interlocking part of Hedonist’s complex swirl. Classic, golden, honeyed, expansive, many will likely find it irresistible; for me it took several wears before I could take it on its own terms. For a long time I missed depth notes, maybe something dry or bitter, a bold touch of wood or spice, before arriving at the conclusion that that would have probably resulted in something heading in a completely different direction to the one the perfumer had intended. It’s grown on me and I have a sneaking feeling that increasing familiarity will result in greater pleasure.

    13th February, 2014

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    Aoud Damascus by Montale

    A most woody rose with a musky purr in the base. Deeply comforting, with the overriding impression of a wood blend rather than just the loud Montale oud approximation. The frankincense that fades back after making its presence felt at the start would have really added an extra dimension had it been more assertive. Just a couple of sprays are enough to envelop the wearer in its soft charms for hours. However, seems to lack enlivening tonal variation, it grabs a hold of its main chord and sticks with it.

    13th February, 2014

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    Angel: Les Parfums de Cuir by Thierry Mugler

    The secret of making a good curry is proportion, the spicing must be calibrated with some elements highlighted, others playing a supporting role. Attempting a curry by throwing together various spices will result in an edible but invariably muddy result.
    This iteration of Angel throws up a similar problem – one senses a multitude of materials but they resolutely refuse to unite into something grand, a bit like a high definition recording being played through muffled speakers.
    First up is an amazingly strong cassis note that smells just like the underwear of a dribbler who doesn’t change their smalls for days. This dried urine whiff had me chuckling; it was mercifully short-lived.
    Then we were in the realm of a powerful thing dulled somewhat – I don’t know whether it is the attempted leather to blame. I say attempted because had I tried this blind, I wouldn’t have plumped for leather, just something that smells a bit worn and tired.
    However, this is clearly a perfume of two parts, with the elements cohering much better after a good few hours, where a rich yet frothy, mainly abstract but quite fruity scent of considerable charm and sophistication remains.

    10th February, 2014

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    Oeillet Louis XV (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    The dowager’s parlour with satin cushions of the palest pink, thimble glasses of a green liquor poured out, powdered wigs several stories high, an ample cleavage with a beauty spot on one flank, footmen in too tight breeches, pious prayers and secret assignations. Maybe it’s the name of this creation or its thrilling powders at the start but this is the scene I’m transported to.
    The base of this is incredible, oozing with quality – comforting sweet musky powders that explode at the first spray and then settle gently through the course of the perfume’s journey upon your skin. They are the perfect complement to the carnation rounded with the softest clove note imaginable that is the presiding accord. The progression is surprising – from something rich and ‘perfumey’ and ‘not sure I want to smell this aged’ to a highly responsive lightly spiced powdery floral that seems to be a natural exhalation of the skin. So accomplished.

    10th February, 2014

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