Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

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Total Reviews: 779

Cuirs by Carner Barcelona

Unimaginative peppery dry woods offering in a vein that has become overfamiliar by now. Touched by the dry herbs and smoke of nagarmotha and dusted with some aged spice, none of which inch this towards greater likeability. A suggestion of candied orange sweetness at the start may have done the trick but it is soon lost.
Inert and badly in need of the electric shock of some other gutsy ingredient to play off against the dreary desiccated woods.
23rd March, 2017

L'Autre Oud by Lancôme

We are in such post-oud times that it is surprising and refreshing to come across an oud done in the old manner, before the craze hit and oud was still mainly the preserve of Arabic style perfumery. So, this is not an oud pulled and stretched by ‘novelty’ notes, but one that goes for richness and balance highlighting the warmth and deep resonance characteristic of this entrancing ingredient. This is about as l’autre as this oud gets – it says, I can still do that old thing with assurance and it’s still magic.
This is a lovely woody perfume of great depth, stuffed with accents – humid, nobly mouldy, earthy, gently boozy, spicy in the most refined sense, hints of smoke and leather – that perform in unison. What the nose encounters is an instantly recognizable and rounded perfume that is all about greeting rather than evasion.
As with such ouds, the classic accompanying notes are deployed completely at the service of its friendly woody character – the saffron seems to align with drier aspects of the woody theme, the red rose extends its darkness rather than jostling to be the main event, and the patchouli brings a touch of the wine cellar. Fine work by Christophe Reynaud who is behind a number of mainstream designer hits – here that crowd-pleasing tendency gives us an oud that is truly sumptuous.

23rd March, 2017

Angel's Dust by Francesca Bianchi

Angel’s Dust is unabashedly romantic. This is like being in the chamber of luurrve where there is nothing harsh, the senses are fanned with the sweetest, kindest airs and just when you thought things were getting a bit too much hearts-and-flowers in the Hallmark sense there’s a welling up of sensuality.
On the face of it this is a powdery, cosmetics-inspired creation. But that is just the barest outline within which beats a passion that many will want to embrace. The first impression is of a billowy floral bouquet, rose and mimosa done in a style that makes one feel like one is subsiding into a feather bed, with the powder of the mimosa further accentuated by iris. This boudoir effect is lit up by a plump, golden vanilla note. It’s rendered as an unabashedly gourmand accent giving body and further comfort. But if so far this bedroom of bliss seems to have been promising only fluffy dreams and restful sleep, a short while in the oriental foundations make themselves felt and the promise of something more awakens. A speck of black pepper in the opening had signalled this progression, but now we have warming balsamic notes and smooth and creamy sandalwood, and they are as welcome as the lover’s touch. Unobtrusively backing the whole thing from start to finish is a skin-like musk, keeping it in sympathy with the wearer.
For an hour or so Angel’s Dust feels like a minor masterpiece, but then two disappointing things happen. First the projection takes a dive, so it becomes just a little better than a skin scent with the consequent loss of detail that involves. Then a short while after that the florals lose much of their vibrancy, and now the distinction between Angel’s Dust and other perfumes of the powder compact type is much narrowed. A pity.

23rd March, 2017
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Oudmazing by Montale

In which Montale finally give up on their usual attempts at oud constructs and go for a straightforward subdued woody backing instead. But the woooud is not the point here despite the name.
The notes in this one are all over the place – anyone who thinks there be figs here as the notes list declares needs to go smell figs. What we are given is a plump sugar-fed gourmand in the Angel-Sì tradition, which starts off with a bit of a chocolate rush but soon waddles into a swamp of fruit gloop and candy floss with burnt edges. A by-numbers sweet vanilla seems to ooze into any available olfactory space. A welcome undertone of something like roasted hazelnuts has its negative in a jarring acetone/citric note screeching at the fringes.
Matures to a rubbery-woody sweetness but this is still one of those experiences to which saying ‘No’ seems a positive thing.
23rd March, 2017

Rahele by Neela Vermeire

Aerodynamic mixed floral, light and lilting, with all the buffed sheen and sparkle of an aldehydic classic – but sans the aldehydes. (Or at least not in any starring role.) The main quality of this perfume is a gentle dreamlike lift reminiscent of a spring breeze.
The prominent floral note in the bouquet is osmanthus, but evoked in an airy, billowy manner, that is reminiscent of some interpretations of orange blossom and with the yellow fruit nuance abstract, just a hint of something juicy. The way it is blended with the citrus and cardamom at the top is elegant and sure – the notes merge effortlessly into one another without the trace of a join, a Duchaufour signature by now. And that is characteristic of the perfume as a whole – it has a diffuse radiance, its floral character seemingly built on pure suggestion rather than prominent note differentiation. Indeed the heavy hitters mentioned as base notes, stay completely submerged in the main, providing invisible support.
This has an India-related backstory as do other offerings from this house, but it adds nothing to this cool and refreshing delight, a wing-flap of a perfume. Also common to other Vermeire offerings, it has demure projection and after about four hours what’s left of it is pretty much a skin scent with some powdery wood in the mix. Still, a beauty while it lasts.

Notes according to the Neela Vermeire website:
Top notes
Green mandarin, cardamom, cinnamon, violet leaf absolute

Heart notes
Osmanthus absolute, rose absolute, magnolia, jasmine absolute, iris, violet

Base notes
Cedarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli, leather

23rd March, 2017

Osmanthus Interdite by Parfum d'Empire

It’s easy to dismiss Osmanthus Interdite on first encounter as yet another watery, pale tea floral (y’know weak white/green tea front and indistinct white florals burbling behind it in the manner of numerous spa offerings).
But then it rounds on the wearer in the heart phase, growing denser and dirtier, releasing the fruit pulp and old leather scent associated with osmanthus, against a custard-like background. It verges on the slightly sick-making aspect of the fruit spectrum (a bit like how a ripe papaya has an unmistakable hint of vomit to it), with the leather throwing its weight behind that impression, but is held in check by the fresher tea and aquatic tones. A curious, unusual thing that I can’t say I’ve acquired a taste for yet.
However, there is one more step in its evolution and it is towards an airier fruitiness (lemony apricot), with the dirtier elements all but gone, the osmanthus clusters diffusing their lingering scent in a gentle breeze. This is the point of arrival this perfume was aiming for all along.
23rd February, 2017

Eternal Voyage by Auphorie

Have you set sail on an amber quest? Don’t forget to take a ride in Auphorie’s Eternal Voyage, which presents the piney, smoky, vanillic labdanum that is at the heart of the amber accord to beautiful effect. While retaining the richness associated with this family, there is a brightness and lightness of touch that is often missing from many ambers. This one dances.
I keep getting wafts of a sweet green herbal scent in the mix, reminiscent of newly flowering lavender - and its good mate tonka is there too lending further pleasantness and a hint of powder. So far so lively. Spices here are cleverly tucked into a supporting role – present and butch when sniffed close to the skin, but unobtrusive in the throw of the perfume. The overall impression is of a lively amber kissed by a fougère.
Staying power is a bit disappointing for an amber – I was reaching to refresh every four hours.
23rd February, 2017

Vanille d'Iris by Ormonde Jayne

The jet set doesn’t appeal to me. All that greed, narcissism and preening competitiveness – no thanks. But I will admit to being more susceptible to its airbrushed imagery – a kind of genteel pastel glam (we’re talking ancien not nouveau darling, do keep up) that is all about being immaculately distant. Vanille d’Iris has some of that quality, being probably the best lipstick iris I have encountered, subtle, lightly suedey, with a few puffs of ultra-light smoke hanging around its entrance. It’s not a perfume to focus upon, but one that moves around you like a fine haze. The vanilla is far recessed in the mix, a touch of sweet padding at the back that does not upset the sheerness. If one wants to feel discretely fabulous, like the kind of person who maintains a matte porcelain visage in the stinking heat, this is the one.

10th February, 2017

Treffpunkt 8 Uhr by J.F. Schwarzlose

Salty vetiver with an undertone of fruitiness that immediately suggested immortelle to my nose rather than the declared notes. It has a slightly sweaty, old vellum quality but also plenty of lift, giving it an energizing feel. Dry and savoury, it seems designed for casual summer use or as a background hum to a busy day at the office. Nothing like the full-on layered marvel of this house’s Trance, but pretty good in its own stripped back way. During the course of the day it seems to take a shower, with the vetiver getting increasingly clean and fresh and a green mango note finally revealing itself. We’re in Timbuktu’s backyard now.
10th February, 2017

Rosa Nigra by Unum

Rosa Nigra was made for reclining in ‘the cloud’ surely, as it’s so peachy and fluffy and no doubt circled by ‘likes’. These words from a Lene Lovich song seem apt: ‘Too tender to touch, too fragile to lust’. Rosa Nigra’s is a roseate fantasy princess world, everything’s a pink musky haze and the gentlest of rose and vanilla tones plump out the impression of peach at the start. It seems to be a perfume about to collapse into powder at any minute; all that candyfloss muskiness is surely headed that way.
But, oh no, it stays aerial and pinky, synthetic for sure, but kitschy kooky, and I find myself quite enjoying its mindlessness despite my better judgment. Maybe I am of an age when I am allowed to have Barbie moments without the accompanying shame of letting down all of humankind.
10th February, 2017

Orange Aoud by Montale

An odd little number, which wrong foots the wearer at first into thinking this is high on hygiene what with its soap-and-talcum-powder florals of utterly ambiguous pedigree. Light in a surprisingly un-Montale way, it seems like a ‘why did they bother?’ kind of perfume.
But then what started as a pleasant but inconsequential floral starts shifting gears, when first a similarly indifferent attempt at leather (except this smells more like the inside of a rubber washing up glove) and then a pretty vague ‘oud’ (faintly woody and ever so apologetically cheesy, like a shock-chilled brie) join in. Slowly the florals recede until they’re just a fringe and the leather and oud begin to expand and unwind, with a bit of a nod to Montale’s striking Aoud Cuir d’Arabie. Except that this is much politer.
And then several hours further, the whole thing starts to turn around with those light florals taking the spotlight again, but this time with their leather and oud heart pumping within. The longer one wears it, the more it appeals but there’s no escaping that this is a pretty subdued offering for this house. And about as orange as spinach.
10th February, 2017

Nuit de Noël by Caron

A warm embrace, that gathers and holds and keeps you close. Nuit de Noël offers a reassurance that classical perfumery, with its layering and orchestration, has still so much to tell us and that its message can be of warmth and love. But the first thing it seems to be saying in its enclosing hug is: ‘Be not afraid.’ For here is a perfume of great boldness, albeit dressed in golden raiment and with a softness of touch that defies you to equate daring with any kind of militancy.
Upfront is a huge floral bouquet, with a rich and heady jasmine as its star; it has an amazing carnal warmth tempered by the classic understudy note of rose. The rose is here purely to round out and refine the opulent jasmine, rather than shine in its own right, and it performs this selfless function perfectly in the service of a luminous (yet far from transparent) floral accord.
In keeping with the classic manner the florals are wrapped in layer upon refined layer. Ambery-musky tones, a gauzy powder, a tremendously complex woody layer that feels like a perfume in its own right, accents of moss here rendered warm by the glow of the rest, all suggest great depths and familiar mysteries. I smell matured and tempered spices, balsams, candied orange and patisserie almond and chestnut preparations. It matters little if there are corresponding ingredients to these impressions – this is a perfume that suggests so many things, none in discord. This is its gift, accept it and be rewarded.
Despite a noticeable moss note, I would hesitate to call Nuit de Noël a chypre – it has none of that family’s briskness or angularity. Instead, there is oriental warmth and luxury, contained within a classic sense of structure – there is no sprawl to it. That classicism gives it an antique quality but one that is sympathetic, full of character and so much more giving than the distortions of nostalgia.
10th February, 2017

Endymion by Penhaligon's

Penhaligon’s have some of the most romantic perfume names, all so faery lands forlorn. One feels the appropriate state to be receiving such offerings is on a purple velvet chaise longue, emerald green cravat at throat fastened with appropriate gem-studded jewel, a tiny crystal glass filled with rare firewater to hand.
Alas, the perfumes themselves often tend to suffer from overtly synthetic smelling bases, and Endymion is no exception. Here a grating peppery-woody base infused with bilious-making aquatics sinks the enterprise which started pleasantly enough as a fresh musky-powdery barbershop cologne. Call me a snob but that offensive base just shrieks ‘cheap’.
10th February, 2017
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Nejma 1 by Nejma

A perfume where the notes list proves somewhat unreliable. An engaging, deeply bitter creation that is an oud in leather drag. Smell Nejma 1 up close and it is the smell of wet bark: bitter, inedible, somewhat musty, with great depth. There are floral notes in there but completely embedded in the woodiness. A trace of dry saffron is the only spicing that registers. There’s also a doughy quality to the mix (especially in the first half) that is reminiscent of iris.
In its trail, however, the experience is mainly of a dark, luxurious and smoothly executed leather – it’s a refined blend, rich and full of character (that bracing bitterness stays constant), yet not at all heavy.
06th February, 2017

Papyrus de Ciane by Parfumerie Generale

A perfume curio that juxtaposes a volley of greens (bitter galbanum, astringent moss, other herbal accents) and not-quite-greens (sweetish hay tones) against feathery jasmine-like florals and lavender soap. One of those ‘shouldn’t really work but it does’ combinations that pulls off a bracing verdant freshness softened by soapy comfort. It’s one of those perfumes that doesn’t reward paying too much close attention to (the notes duck and bob a bit too much for that); just wear it and your step will be lighter and your day a little brighter.
06th February, 2017

Rozy Eau de Parfum by Vero Profumo

When a perfume opens with the kind of concentrated greasiness that marks Rozy it is a statement of intent (and confidence). It says, bear with me, I have gifts to bestow, treasures to unfold.
Rozy, in its first act, is to my nose a grand perfume in the manner of Amouage’s Gold offerings: rich, opulent, giving the impression of tremendous detail, and definitely not for everyone. The layering of three notes – passionfruit, rose and honey – is dizzying, effulgent even, and yet composed with the deep soundness of classic perfumery.
The passionfruit with its joyous tartness makes the dense sweetness of the rest more palatable; the note isn’t light, instead it’s as if passionfruit curd had been translated into an olfactory instead of a gustatory delight. The rose is jammy with a touch of heady hyacinth for support. And the honey is unctuous, with a pronounced warm beeswax aspect bringing an animalic buzz. They join together into something that is full on and exuberant.
However, the second act sees the balance significantly altered, with the honey still blazing away but the passionfruit and rosy florals greatly dimmed. Much of the texture of the scent is lost, and we end up somewhere between Minya’s Hedonist and Xerjoff’s Al-Khat. Not a bad place to be but somewhat monotonous in its syrupiness after the dazzle of the first half.

06th February, 2017

Stargazer 7.71 by Yosh

Cool green lily and lily of the valley cross which has an undertone of the plastic-meets-mushrooms aspect found in the latter. Not the shrieking harpy lily that some experienced – but maybe that is because I tried the EDP not the oil. But also nothing that made me sit up and take notice despite a shaded pond-side feel about it. It’s fresh, it’s casual, parts of it smell a bit synthetic, it’s alright but run of the mill, and yes, I suppose it could get quite unrelenting if you’re not a particular fan of white florals.
06th February, 2017

Tropical Wood by Montale

Don’t judge a perfume by its notes list is an attitude I try to hang on to when testing, in order to be open and receptive to what's in the bottle (or can, in this case) rather than being nudged by expectation. But I must admit that the notes to Tropical Wood had my eyebrows arching before the first puff landed on my skin. Dear oh dear, acidic fruit like passion fruit and pineapple combining with the sweetest of floral notes with oud and leather heaped on as well? It would take a miracle worker to create something compelling from these.
I’m sad to announce no miracle awaits. The opening is intensely hard-boiled and jammy, with the concentrated tropical fruity notes almost declaring war on the rose-syrup led florals. The woody note seems to hang around the edges like an uninvited guest, unintegrated.
After a while, much of the dense fruit dissipates and we are back in pretty familiar Montale territory, a musked-up hairspray rose with a woody backing, the point of difference being that the woods rendition is pretty smooth, almost sheer, rather than dark and patchoulied. Montale has released far too many offerings in a similar vein and they are mostly fairly competent, but there’s little to them that would make me want to adopt one. One can do equally well, even better, with the glut of options from cut-price Arabic houses.

06th February, 2017

Ylang Ylang by Lorenzo Villoresi

Signal flare going up – ylang lovers, here’s one you will want to try. The opening minutes are striking: creating the impression of a blooming flower rather than the more sultry unctuousness that we are familiar with from the essential oil. The top is fresh with subtle hints of foliage, open and expansive, which is quite unusual, as ylang’s density often works against such an interpretation. There are hints of clove-tinged carnation and a distinct supporting creamy tiare note keeping things tropical.
As the perfume settles, some of the freshness dissipates to be replaced with the familiar honeyed ylang languor and a clearer ‘white floral’ identity (with jasmine also making itself known in the floral bouquet), but it never sags or becomes cloying; instead it relaxes into a chic classicism, floating like a haze around the wearer.
Its one drawback – and it’s a minor one – is that perhaps it ought to have focussed more closely on its lead player instead of bringing on the white floral chamber ensemble to quite the extent it does. For example, for all the assemblage of Perris’s Ylang Ylang Nosy Be there is a clear trickle of nectar-like golden ylang of a quality that makes you sit up and take notice running right through it. Here, one marvels at the well-rounded beauty of the entire cloud, but some of ylang’s distinctiveness gets blurred.
06th February, 2017

Néa by Jul et Mad

If this came in a glass bowl I’d eat it, no problem. I’m a bit less keen on wearing it because it does something so familiar at this point in time that an odour quite similar to this one flares from someone or the other at almost any social gathering one may go to.
Néa is fruity gumdrops in a pool of caramel. As with many of these dessert gourmands note differentiation is beside the point, and here everything is a thoroughly blended and smoothed out whole. The fruity accent is about as interesting as it gets – if I had to plump for a particular fruit I’d go for pomegranate. There is a bit of a puckering tang to it, but gumdrops is its destiny. A brief flash of something a bit mouldy-boozy at the start is soon covered by the voluminous robes of creamy caramel.
Néa is quite comforting and easy going, but has all the character of a peeled potato. It also, surprisingly for this kind of perfume, deflates considerably in projection after the first few hours. Go for the plentiful budget alternatives instead if you really must.

28th January, 2017

Loody by Dr. Gritti

Loody gives a mistaken first impression of being a bit of a stinker – a somewhat sour and musty rose that would require a pretty peculiar taste to appreciate. But it settles quickly and when it blooms, boy does it ever.
The Moroccan rose that is the focus of this perfume is deep and velvety, soft but not transparent or thin. And the woody-spicy accord with which it has been matched has been lovingly thought out, the wood accents are smooth yet have an almost oud-like depth to them and a slight bitterness. The spicing, which is restrained, I can only call ‘abstract’- it’s there but only as an enhancement of the wood and without individual spices evident. The pairing of rose and woods wavers in one’s perception: at times that profound and yet delicate rose seems to float over the woody base, and at others it seems completely united, the two enriching each other in a heady embrace. Dabs of a somewhat salty ambergris and aged leather make Loody a grown up perfume. The whole is radiant with diffusive musk, so that the wearer is contained in a scented mist.
I have a soft spot for roses, and an even greater one for woody roses. This is one of the better ones.
28th January, 2017

Cuir Fétiche by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

After an initial ‘Not again!’ screwing of my nose at what seemed like powder compact florals (which can age a perfume by a century) this settled quite nicely into a funky floral leather. So overlook the first volley that smells like one of those fur-coat-and-powder jobs that have been lying around for too long in the bottle and gently decaying. But focus on the decay, because as the perfume begins to bloom you’ll note that the floral notes that come into their own are enriched by an indolic fullness suggesting not only glorious peak flower power but also a bit of wilt. It’s quite bewitching and pairs seamlessly with a soft, worn leather accord and some buzzing musk.
Its dirt without feeling dirty, something that classic French perfumery excels in and Cuir Fétiche is in that mould. If the superficial impression is of grande dame refinement, that lingering suggestion of unmentionables brings a flush to her cheek. Unburdened by the sticky baggage of resins and spices which make some leathers unbearable to me, Cuir Fétiche is still a pleasingly complex creation, not too strong, offering the nose a variety of impressions, which overlap and tease.
28th January, 2017

Black V by AJ Arabia

After a fairly rubbery start (tuberose-orange blossom can sometimes go in that direction) this settles into a pretty relaxed white floral. The starring tuberose is by no means exceptional, but it has the requisite creaminess and light nuances of coconut which are positives. Fortunately the added sweets – caramel and a sugary version of vanilla – are kept subordinate to the florals. Nice enough, as the tuberose doesn’t swell to unmanageable giddiness, but if a calm evocation of this bloom is what I’m after, I’ll take MFK’s splendid Le Beau Parfum first any day.
28th January, 2017

The Path by Laura Tonatto

If The Awakening, Tonatto’s other oud-influenced perfume, was despite its merits a bit of a damp squib, this one is a bit better. Here the focus is squarely on creating a woody perfume ennobled by sweet rot. From the opening suggestion of a freshly opened pack of Bata rubber slippers to a much drier settle where bass wood tones overlap – slightly spicy, smoky, leathery and intoxicating – The Path is pretty much on course. No floral, fruity or herbal distractions here, all the layering and depth of this perfume seems to consist only of woody notes pervaded by a wine cellar kind of fragrant mouldiness – it’s the kind of thing that is a siren song for me.
But it has two big drawbacks. The first is its lack of strength in the first few hours. It’s as if Tonatto has taken a quality Arabian blend and diluted it to timorous politeness. Subtlety is fine for certain odour profiles but an oud with such striation and character deserved a more confident presence. But the second is worse – as the hours go by the strength seems to improve a bit, but now there is dissipation of the texturing that was its main attraction, as first we get a few hours of something that resembles a ‘dry woods’ aromachemical (and probably is), followed by said note getting increasingly dusty.
13th January, 2017

The Awakening by Laura Tonatto

I’m afraid I feel I rather slept through this one despite paying it close attention. Described by Tonatto as a mix of velvety florals and oud, it was a must-try for me – Tonatto is a highly skilled perfumer in my book who brings a delicacy of touch to the heaviest of notes and I was interested to see what route she would go down with oud.
Well, the oud, which seems just like trace sprinkles of dusty wood at the start does awaken as time passes. This is quite a clever trick as this is a perfume of great transparency to begin with, opening with tuberose and jasmine presented in such a light manner they are almost aqueous, before the natural greasiness of these blooms creeps up. Sweet violets join the bouquet along with that light woody dusting. The treatment and the florals used seemed like familiar Tonatto territory and I felt she was repeating herself a bit.
But as time went on the oud that was hiding in plain sight begins to stir, first gaining a worn leather aspect and then a quality of wine dregs. All of which has great potential except for the overall low volume of this perfume. It’s persistent alright, and I can smell it on my skin and yet it seems unwilling to fully show itself. Pleasant but a bit vague, which is a shame because sniffed up close it definitely has more merit. Hairspray musks in the mix don’t do the drydown any favours either.
13th January, 2017

Tajibni by Al Haramain

The juxtaposition of a fruity note with the soil that birthed it works remarkably effectively in Tajibni. The note in question is a rounded and full orange, zesty and inviting. But it’s the contrasting accord of dry earth receiving rain and damp bark and mulchy leaves that made me gasp with joy, it’s that good. According to the Al Haramain website this has been achieved through a pairing of patchouli and immortelle – it’s quite special whatever the ingredients. The mix is handled with a lightness of touch, with powdery heliotrope and muted suede offering understated support to the main players. Naturally the evolution is away from the orange (which fades out entirely) and more towards the soil accord which suits me just fine - but there are enough glints of variation to please other tastes I think.
A successful, unusual, calm composition that comes with a hefty price tag – 140 euro for 6 ml perfume oil at the time of writing.
13th January, 2017

Atifa Noir by Al Haramain

Complexity to rejoice in, Atifa Noir is a special occasion perfume that promises worlds as yet undiscovered. Anchored around a chord that is equal parts soil tincture and damp wood, a swirl of fruity notes (golden orangey tones rather than any specific fruit) entices the nose. The rose and black pepper of the mid-section are surely there but fused together into one entity and then further blended into the seductive earth and musty wood accord. Hints of dark chocolate and dry vanilla round it off.
Wearing Atifa Noir is like wearing heavily embroidered clothing – with movement different parts of the pattern are revealed, yet the overall effect is luxurious and hard-won.
13th January, 2017

Atifa Blanche by Al Haramain

A perfume that seems hammered together rather than composed. The jagged opening nails down screechy aldehydes, cheapo citruses, a jasmine-led bouquet of white flowers and obnoxiously loud cumin – all hurling abuse at each other. I have not come across a more discordant juxtaposition of ingredients for quite a while.
Atifa Blanche does have a long evolution but that doesn’t lift it much. The cumin seems to ebb a bit after half an hour or so and the white florals take on a lily character – here we are skirting the middle ranges of acceptability. But once this phase passes the cumin flexes its dirty muscle again, with tuberose now taking the lead role in the white floral shouting match. One wishes it would fade but unfortunately it has stellar staying power.
Unlovely and unloved by me.
13th January, 2017

Incense Oud by Nicolaï

Patricia Nicolaï pulls out a sophisticated and fresh take on cypriol in this offering. If her Amber Oud was Not An Oud, this is Not An Oud 2, so slight is the presence of anything oudy. But actually this doesn’t matter too much, as the smoky materials that are at the heart of this perfume have rarely been presented in such an uplifting and, initially, green a manner.
As soon as the sprayer is depressed this is a perfume that comes billowing out, a wonderful herbal and grassy rush within which are the smoking embers of nagarmotha, that dry, almost choky yet strangely attractive scent. A touch of almost fruity sweetness emerges for a short while before fading out again. There is an impressive backdrop of resinous, peppery, woody tones behind it whereas the salubrious, somewhat medicinal greens at the start begin to slowly dry out. With time one realizes that a sprightly, clean incense has always been part of the action just a bit submerged in the stronger personality of the nagarmotha. The unity of the whole is impressive; there’s nothing within this perfume’s palette of sensations that seems even slightly out of place.
To present Incense Oud’s quite pungently smoky central statement in a manner that feels so fresh and unforced is further proof, were it needed, of Ms Nicolaï’s exceptional talents. However it must be said that once the perfume has settled a few hours in, we are in the parched, resinous territory that has become familiar to quite a few butch creations of late. A joy for the first two hours, a bit boring thereafter.

13th January, 2017

Ambre Doré by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

I remember reading the notes list when this was launched and thinking that they seemed like a dream combination. Perhaps my fear of tampering with dreams has led to this long delay in actually trying the perfume. By now the dream has dissipated and I can smell Ambre Doré without some imaginary holy grail screeching an operatic wail of disappointment from the wings.
It’s an unconventional beauty. The opening is chocolatey richness, which makes me think there must be some patchouli in this somewhere which, combined with the styrax, gives that impression. But it quickly recedes to make way for a surprisingly feral oud – this stuff is seriously dirty old leather and runny cheese, and it’s ringed by a salty, herbal, resinous halo. From me, this draws the nostrils equivalent of a lip smack. The amber in the base is revealed slowly and it’s a proper grown up barely-sweet amber, not some sickly confection; it has the essential ambery warmth, but has the balmy quality of shoe polish that matches well with the oud, eventually enfolding it until just a residual leatheriness is all that remains of the latter. About 4 hours in it has settled into being chiefly an amber but with a strong resinous cast and a dash of rum to it. And then, late, late, late in the wear, there is that patchouli again, no longer smelling like chocolate, but blending into the ambery warmth.
Ambre Doré has a varied olfactory palette, but handles this richness well. It has medium projection so the strong personalities of some of the notes aren’t shouting at you, and the whole remains harmonious, albeit this is a harmony played on the black keys.
13th January, 2017