Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Total Reviews: 816

Rausch by J.F. Schwarzlose

Billowing sweet woody with a huge glug of vanilla, butched up with some pungent and smoky cypriol. It’s a combination that could be trite and awful, but Rausch is held securely by a border that is half fresh leather and half grown up booze. It’s large, it projects like a thesp, it has a reassuring familiarity yet has dark depths (my bet is on the cleverly concealed patchouli), it’s warm and yet means business.
At first, the oud mentioned in the base seems to be a figment of the brand’s imagination – it’s the usual woody aromachemicals lurking in so many woody ambers. But with time something remarkably similar to the moreish oud construct in Oud Satin Mood emerges. This is an accomplished offering which is friendly and tough in equal measure, a combination many will perceive as quite sexy.
17th June, 2017

Saffron Rose by Grossmith

Saffron Rose has a long-enclosed feel to it – like an ornate box of precious scented materials that has lain forgotten which upon opening releases an aged, dry but bewitching odour. Definitely one for special occasions as it is one of those perfumes that expects the wearer to rise to it. The rose petals are withered and crumbling with an austere bitter-sweetness about them. The saffron is rubbed into old leather and the grain of the several woods that seem to be involved. And underneath them all is a salty, skin-like base note that suggests animal presence. The whole is unashamedly antique and it exerts the fascination of things that don’t reveal everything about themselves upon first exposure. One to wear when visiting the shaded room of the imagination that houses medieval manuscripts written on vellum.
Slumps somewhat after the first four hours into attar-by-numbers territory (the rose coming up) and drops in projection a touch before then – unforgivable at this price point.

17th June, 2017

Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne

There is a balm at the heart of both Ormonde Man and Ormonde Woman - it is a smooth and creamy thing, giving a sense of luxury and refinement and a hint of something that is somewhere between cashmere and milk (with no doubt a good helping of Geza Schoen’s beloved, velvety – and addictive – Iso E thrown in). It soothes the greens and woods that are common to both these perfumes and dissolves them into a magical and cool forest fantasia. Here are gently waving grasses, airbrushed pines, the gentle crunch of fallen twigs releasing odours not only of wood but herbal, almost floral coriander seed and the sweet, soapy breath of cardamom. Here is sunlight filtering pale green through the tall branches alive with dancing motes. And here is the unmissable elegance that is something of an Ormonde Jayne signifier, which gives so many of their perfumes an effortlessly relaxed yet polished feel.
Whereas I love a green perfume that goes for verisimilitude, I am also partial to such smeared lens explorations which seem worlds apart.
As I currently own Ormonde Man, I find the common DNA of the two perfumes does not justify also buying Ormonde Woman, but should the former run out, then it will be time to get gender fluid.

17th June, 2017
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Figue Aoudii by Maison Incens

After a fairly repugnant opening - rubbery and overly sweet fig notes that would have been better off in a scented erasor – this turns into a curious, somewhat more wearable creation as the latex feel wears off. An ambery fig floral with a big slash of coconut body lotion and musky projection, how many of those have you come across? Especially when the floral notes are nectar dripping ones – a very hothouse iteration of ylang ylang among them.
For many this will be a mess of sick. I do admire its daring intentions and it somehow manages to avoid feeling too sticky, but it’s not one I’d seek out.
17th June, 2017

Aomassaï 10 by Parfumerie Generale

I remember my first encounter with salted caramel in Brittany many moons ago – an umami bomb for the sweet of tooth, I was immediately sold and wondered why such an excellent and intense culinary idea wasn’t more widely prevalent. I imagine many others shared this view as this particular flavour has now marched into ice creams, fudges and even peanut butter far and wide across the Western world.
Aomassaï seems to be drawing on this particular trick of combining a massive dose of salt with caramalized fudgy and nutty scents. The saltiness is what rolls up first – a combination of licorice, hay and vetiver which smells of all these things but also sea-bathed, sun-baked skin. It’s been picked up by many other niche merchants since (for example Angela Ciampagna) with varying degrees of success.
The foody notes of condensed milk caramel and roasted hazelnuts rub up against the salt to suggest at first coffee but then temptations that seem beyond gustatory appetites.
What Aomassaï does particularly well is work a dark palette of notes – burnt, roasted, caramelized – into a composition that has the PG signature airiness. In the later stages the saltiness recedes leaving a slightly musky, nutty mousse. Different and accessible.

17th June, 2017

Fusion Sacrée Lui by Majda Bekkali

The fusion of contrasts is an interesting idea – here there is a successful graft between outdoorsy notes of citrus, lavender and celery (just a hint) and boozy caramel-dominant gourmand notes. But from the off you know which side is going to be taking over and pretty soon the richer notes of davana, tuberose, caramel, vanilla, backed with seamless woods and musks form the sumptuous bed of this fragrance.
It doesn’t really matter that the contrast isn’t maintained as this is a sophisticated blend: rich, luxurious, prompting thoughts of decadence, but maintaining an energy about it, a kind of spicy herbal zing that burnishes its edges and saves the project from ponderousness. If you’re imagining fudgy caramel, you’ve got this finely orchestrated perfume all wrong. In the drydown a plush suede accent emerges, a comforting touch.

07th June, 2017

Garofano by Lorenzo Villoresi

Wooha – the opening of Garofano made me feel like a dusty old carpet that had been attacked with an unnecessary excess of some stridently floral freshener. It was sour-sweet, it was powdery in a chemical dust kind of way, and its floral elements felt as if they had been hard boiled and pickled.
Ultimately it resolved into a pretty strong carnation scent, cloves in its teeth, something curdled about its presence, and singing the Habanera draped in red nylon. There’s the tang of geranium and some uplift from a pepper-lavender combo. Sure, this feels vintage in a certain strongly-scented powder compact kind of way and has a stiff backbone of spice, but I can’t really appreciate its chintzy bad temperedness. In the interest of fairness it must be noted that hours into its evolution, milder-mannered floral of notes of rose and ylang ylang become evident and Garofano loses its frown.
07th June, 2017

Othello by Il Profumo

Do not pay much attention to the listed notes if you’re planning on trying out Othello – they may lead you to expect things this perfume doesn’t deliver. Stay instead with the thing itself and discover an accomplished fresh and spicy number with the air of a few barber shop classics. Othello nods to fougères with a clean and energizing aura about it and then mixes up an uber-trad ‘masculine’ blend of aerated spice, herby aromatics and woods – all in a just-shaved and just-washed manner. It’ll brighten up a dull day no doubt about it.
Exceptional? No. Oud? Not even a whiff. Mainstream and pretty good? Yup. But with a polite drydown that seems to be signalling some pretty modest materials, it is anyone’s guess why we should pay niche prices for this.

07th June, 2017

Ylang Ylang by E.Coudray

The languid charms of ylang ylang continue to fascinate me – the scent of this bloom bright with jasmine-like notes but with none of jasmine’s assertiveness leads to an oasis in my mind. Ylang is calming, its slight rubberiness almost tactile, its golden honeyed heart gentle not overbearing. I love how it can sometimes suggest bananas, or how its density attracts rather than repels. It makes me dozy and content.
So I make a beeline for ylang ylang perfumes and almost blind bought this drawn by Persolaise’s rave Love at First Scent live review, and, I’ll guiltily admit, feeling somewhat susceptible to its limited edition status. However, seeing that a shop with a friendly owner stocked it, I decided to be sensible and try first.
The difference I perceive between the scent on a card and on skin is quite significant. On paper, it seems to have a good glug of jasmine and plenty of vintage complexity (spice and a pinch of the unwashed), which though not unattractive didn’t seem particularly compelling either.
But on skin, the heaviness I was unsure of fortunately didn’t come across and it opened with a confident and radiant ylang and lily accord – rich but also fresh. It rang out clear as a bell, the pride of floralcy, gorgeous. Upon development, however, when a sandal-prominent Guerlain-like base brought alteration to the floral joy, it became a bit more traditional and less to my taste. I can’t fault the backing, it is soundly executed, I just find it takes the floral notes down a too well travelled route with the parts not adding up to a greater sum.
For others it may be just the thing as this is by any measure a very good perfume, but I’m sitting it out on the purchasing front.

07th June, 2017

Décou-Vert by Laboratorio Olfattivo

Bright whitish floral (hedione prominent clean jasmine and equally freshened up lily of the valley) with green accents and a hint of lemon. Sunny, resembling a scented splash, competent, good for warm weather – but I’ve come across this kind of thing so often now that I find it difficult to raise a lasting flicker of interest.
31st May, 2017

Eau des Sens by Diptyque

Summery perfection in this neroli-led EDT from Diptyque that is just bursting with a juiciness that energizes and refreshes. The orange blossom note here is bright and floral (note: many orange blossom outings in perfumery are plastic and sugared citrus peel affairs – this isn’t) with a dewy quality, and it is blended superbly right from the start with delicate citruses. Right in the background are petitgrain-like woodsy tones and a hint of mild, sweet patchouli. This is like 4711 ‘elevated’ (to use a term popular with snobby chefs). It carves out a space of tall trees, long grass and balmy sun.
I first wore it on a day when my mood was down and it lifted me immediately. Surely a service to the perfume purchasing public from Diptyque.
31st May, 2017

Full Incense by Montale

Full spectrum incense with plenty of terpenic lift evoking the great piny outdoors in the opening stages. Curiously this benefits from overdosing – wear a spray too many and you are immersed in its sacramental cloud, be stingy with it and it seems thin, whiny and synthetic. The balance of citrusy treble notes (the elemi) with powdery, dusty woody sonorities rounds out the resinous and lightly smoky incense at its centre. If its churchy appeal makes me feel like sashaying in brocaded robes and chanting for the first hour or two, I must admit it becomes much of a muchness beyond that and I’m inclined to cover it up with something a bit more varied.
Needless to say, only go there if a single-minded incense perfume is what you are after. All other expectations will be dashed.
20th May, 2017

Rue des Lilas by Phaedon

Yes, I think I passed that street – the lilacs were in bloom, the air and soil were dry, a gentle breeze carried their scents. As with many lilac recreations there is a supporting lily of the valley note that wafts in and out of one’s perception and stays for the course. In keeping this composition delicate and airy as opposed to the heady narcotic route that is also possible with such florals, Pierre Guillaume conjures a reverie. There’s a pleasing simplicity to Rue des Lilas, it’s soft yet persistent, with the only evolution being traces of the powdery musk in the declared notes becoming more evident with the passage of time. It’s the kind of perfume that I can enjoy for a few hours rather than a whole day – by then I start feeling a bit trapped on that street.
20th May, 2017
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Midnight Rose by Amouroud

A rose like a plush, mile-deep sofa, this is one to sink into. The note differentiation is pants and yet this perfume is appealing as a gourmand rose if you like that kind of thing. The main rose note is dense and in the Middle Eastern attar vein, with the candied honey base so common to many sweet gourmands and a seam of tart jelly-like fruitiness plumping it out (guided by the notes list one might concede this is litchi, but I doubt that conclusion would be evident if one were to test this blind). It’s all very rose jam and Turkish delight, probably nightmarishly so for some. But I find it succeeds as a whole (because this sure ain’t a perfume of parts) where many such attempts just turn into syrupy slop. Maybe it’s the well deployed sour-sweet fruitness, but I find Midnight Rose lets me indulge my sweet tooth without discomfort.
Curiously however, projection drops dramatically after a couple of hours. This is a shame because perfumes in this manner need to have built-in oomph to succeed, their drama can’t play out in murmurs.
20th May, 2017

Amazing Mukhallath by Al Haramain

An energizing vetiver that opens with the characteristic bracing and fresh sweetness of a fougère. The scents of conifers and tonic juniper blend with subtly employed cardamom. I’ll be damned if there isn’t a quantity of bright lavender in the mix as well, although it is missing from the notes list. Well, with such bedfellows, it’s no surprise that the vetiver used here is pretty clean – none of the dank and earthy tones that I normally love – but it works perfectly.
I find the resins and incense low key; this is a joyously refreshing affair, like a swim in a chilly lake by a forest of spruce and pine. Perhaps this is standard ‘masculine’ territory, but there’s genuine panache here and that should be celebrated.
20th May, 2017

Alhada by Tola

I had been looking out for Alhada as it is a woody floral (my favourite kind of perfume) centred on the Taif rose. The opening moments looked like I was heading for a disappointment with a hairspray rose in the style of some of Montale’s dodgier offerings leading the charge. The only glimmer of light seemed to be a realistic marigold note – except that the scent of this blossom isn’t particularly bewitching.
But as I have learned with Tola, it pays to wait, as the perfumes usually take a while to settle. And sure enough the fumes that smelled of propellant dissipated (I think the lavender played a big part in creating that impression), and a rich and confident attar-style rose unfurled laid upon a bed of dark tonka and vanilla, and satisfyingly musty wood. It is profoundly sweet and yet escapes the syrup trap, through the bitter accents provided by the wood notes and a touch of saffron in the heart. It is one of Tola’s less unusual, more straightforward creations in that it seems to fit a particular Arabian style of roses (it is part of a collection called ‘Heritage’). My beef with it is that the deep drydown which is still plush with roses is no better than other offerings in this style. Not quite the knockout to justify Tola prices.
20th May, 2017

Paname Paname by Technique Indiscrete

The cumin route leads inevitably to well-sweated body odour, so it’s a brave (or foolish) perfumer who knowingly goes down it. Libertin Louison’s aim seems to be to bring some of the gravitas of animalic chypres of days past into a present where they can be somewhat unwelcome. This requires a tricky balancing act between, on the one hand, the grunting cumin and the unsmiling mossy accents which form the rather dour core of this perfume (‘take me seriously’ they seem to jointly hiss) and, on the other, the cooler fresher elements – some airy citrus, floating almost aquatic white florals, a note that is a cross between doughy iris and something fruity (the ‘apple cake’ of the declared notes?) and clean, somewhat powdery, musk. This creates a tension that could sustain the interest of the perfume lover, though a significant other may be inclined to single out the cumin and tell one to go wash. Eventually things resolve to an underweight Guerlinade with armpit issues.
An ‘almost works’ kind of perfume, a curiosity that brings a convincing vintage element to the table but lacks something to wow at the fresher end of its profile.

10th May, 2017

Mukhallath Seufi by Al Haramain

Tender, deep sweet rose given a blast of jet fuel by a supari blend of freshening ingredients and discreet spices. The concentration of this oil gives the impression of huge complexity as evinced by some gargantuan reviews on the net, but the main event is a woody rose with an attar density but with plenty of fresh lift as well. Reminiscent of quite a few rosy Montales, except the polish and sheen on this one is a few notches up.
10th May, 2017

N'Aimez Que Moi by Caron

At first the whump of the hefty Caron base (deep, powdery-resinous) masks the floating quality of N’Aimez que Moi. Then there is the ferocity of clove and something like the brambly undergrowth from Malle’s Une Rose that also make it appear to be more of a drama queen than it is.
But wait a short while and the rose, liquered, a bit musty but also powdery soft, wafts its magic gathered in clumps of cloudy violets and lilac. A touch of fatty, waxy orris gives it a discreet sheen. I find violets often give perfumes a watercolour, daydream-like quality – perhaps it’s because their scent seems so borderless and diffuse – and that is certainly the case here. Later the base re-emerges, but gently, a pillow to lean back on, giving the florals a touch of earth.
If you have a tendency to dismiss this kind of perfume as old-fashioned and fusty, then N’Aimez que Moi will do nothing to change it. For the rest of us, it is a quiet pleasure, rich yet restrained about it.

Review is for the current EDP formulation.

10th May, 2017

Cuir Garamante by MDCI

Roses in the dustbowl. The curious interaction of the smoky, dusty, pepper-infused cypriol with quite juicy roses is a bit of a headscratcher but, hey, I’ll settle for it as it seems to have some purpose. That purpose being a seriously rich and spicy rose perfume (the cuir of the name is a bit player really – just a touch of dirt around the edges), complete with Montale-like oud as support. So far so satisfying, but why anyone would part with serious bucks for this remains the question when so many more affordable niche lines are also doing this kind of thing to say nothing of the Arabic cheapies that got there first. Good for its angularity and drama – less good for its rather polite way of expressing them.
10th May, 2017

Ombre Rubis by Jean-Charles Brosseau

A shaded pool-side fantasia where synthetic white florals meet glacial aquatics to take a lick at a coconut popsicle. Pale greens at the top are a nice touch but don’t last. Wan and yet strong at the same time as is the tendency of many aquatics. This one could annoy the hell out of you after a while, but the basic composition is pleasing enough if as fake as a Munchkin’s tan.
10th May, 2017

Agaressence by Brécourt

In the perfumery isles of my mind this belongs on the dreaded rack with pale pink liquids in pink bottles. It’s syrupy, it’s generic, it’s vaguely synthetic fruity with hints of acetone around the edges, it’s Barbie with a migraine. Like many such things it’s also stubbornly mono, lacking almost any kind of definition – glue in the nose. And they decided to call it Agaressence – go figure
10th May, 2017

Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

Should probably have been called Pauvre Petite as this shiveringly unimaginative thing seems to have been designed to languish in a corner at the ball. A vapourously musky vague pinky floral with fruity accents at the start that feels utterly generic. The two points of interest are a cool and refreshing citric lift at the top and a rubber-smooches-Play-Doh vanilla-tonka combo in the base. It has a smoothness of execution from start to finish that suggests a surer touch behind the generic front. However, one cannot escape the conclusion that by the drydown this kind of thing turns the wearer into an ambulant marshmallow.
Perhaps I’m being unkind and there will likely be those who will love its delicacy, for it is light and soft like a powder puff and would probably function well as a casual everyday kind of scent. But I can’t really see a space for such enervated offerings in my perfumed life.
27th April, 2017 (last edited: 28th April, 2017)

Ambra by Lorenzo Villoresi

A spicy amber with a big dose of warming myrrh and a freshening terpenic quality. Suffers at the beginning from being over-polished. The blend seems a touch too smooth, giving the feel of either aldehydes or soap. A bit like looking at the thing through milk-bottle lenses whereas something a bit more rough or daring would have made the composition come alive.
However, it sheds this quality as time passes and the perfume begins to come alive on one’s skin. Now it is a sophisticated (but not over-blended) and mellow amber, the characteristic sweetness of the family held nicely in check by the spices and resins.
27th April, 2017

Cuir Erindil by Maison Incens

Leather and lipstick – but not as glam-vamp as that sounds. Cuir Erindil has a waxy, fatty, almost rubbery iris at its heart, which, with able support from a non-foody vanilla, immediately makes lipsticks of a certain vintage come to mind. The leather may open tannery strong but soon subsides to the usual suede-like avatar that is usually paired with iris.
The experience of this perfume is like being in a foggy, off-white environment – all the buffed tones seem to overlap and shift ever so slightly. One can close one’s eyes and let go.
Uber chic or a bit monochrome? That may be the question that arises in some wearers’ minds. For me, Cuir Erindil is a calming daydream of a perfume.
27th April, 2017

Exultat by Maria Candida Gentile

Some of Maria Candida Gentile’s perfumes act a bit like exhalations in the way they rise from one’s skin. They are almost powdery, but not quite – the feeling is more like steam gently dispersing or mist, soft and enveloping. It’s the feel of the thing that impresses you first – and so it is with Exultat.
The main theme is of a traditionally sweet, candied violet bouquet matched with a rather sharp incense that is quite salty (maybe the cedar and vetiver in the base making their presence felt) and even has a spicy fenugreek-like aspect to it. It’s the cloud-like billow of Exultat that makes these two main elements play with each other rather than fight, the violets dreamy and childlike, the incense bringing energy (even a sense of physical labour) and determination. Even though the incense is backed up by woods and vetiver it doesn’t gain the upper hand on the fairytale violets. As an intellectual problem this notion of matching something steely with something woody is appealing – all credit to Gentile that the appeal also translates as a sensory experience.
27th April, 2017

Eau des Merveilles Bleue by Hermès

A fizzy, dispersive start to this ozonic aquatic, tinged with salt and a cool, pebble-like, mineral quality. The suggestion of marine vistas is immediate, but it remains a suggestion – the reality is more like mouth wash and faux cucumber in the bathing pool of Marine World or a strip-lit blank white office space that has undergone an industrial clean in the not too distant past. I struggle to appreciate perfumes like these though I admire their understated persistence. I imagine it may just hit the spot for a hot summer’s day for fans of aquatics.
27th April, 2017

Montecristo by Masque

Dirty old leather paired with zingy aromatic herbals, Montecristo is a butch little number that is firmly in the territory of some of the more square-jawed mainstream ‘masculines’ but with the more extreme elements cranked up a little to establish niche credentials. The backing is firmly trad for this kind of perfume – a woody, ambery, spicy richness familiar to the more hirsute Orientals. The throw is much fresher, quite green and herbal – which is only part of what the wearer themselves will perceive. A fine, well-balanced example of its kind, but I’m not terribly interested in what it has to say.
10th April, 2017

Grand Siècle Intense 7.1 by Parfumerie Generale

Hello there, juicy lemon, has that bad boy Pierre Guillaume been eyeing you up? Shame he couldn’t make you misbehave – still, who needs vice when you’ve got freshness?
GSI has sturdy underpinnings to give a citrus cologne body – patchouli and vetiver – but it’s all about being tart and fresh, more acid than zest. In this it comes across as somewhat single-minded, when it could have benefited from opening up and embracing a bit more variety. The grassy notes don’t really count as they remain timid.
10th April, 2017

Eau de Nyonya by Auphorie

This incredible rich and smoky gourmand that smells like nothing else is further evidence that the Au brothers are perfumers to watch. A first meeting with Eau de Nyonya is almost a shock: the senses reel with the unctuous smell unfolding which is like a thick and creamy rice-based pudding being cooked over an open fire with the rich caramel, toffee and burnt notes that come from the scraping of sticky bits from the pan flooding the olfactory pleasure spots. It prompted involuntary salivation.
The overriding, slightly burnt toffee-like note burnishes many of the elements – the lovely scent of heated freshly-made coconut milk (which is quite different to most perfumery coconut notes), creamy and toasted rice, palm sugar. The floral bouquet of the perfume is hidden behind the gourmand notes – one can sense it’s there but not really define it. Which leads me to wonder what function it performs. Not that it matters much in a perfume of such satiating richness and astonishing originality.
The indulgent sweetness of some gourmands can make one weary – here it is centred by the smokiness, the bitter burnt tones and a waxy, salty ambergris construct that really makes the whole thing shine. Interestingly, during the course of the wear Eau de Nyonya also takes on the ambience of a space where such a tempting dessert may have been prepared – a hall of old timbers and dark high ceilings. A fairly linear scent, the evolution is towards a settling of the notes so that the gourmand intensity subsides somewhat – a good thing – and the smoke fades, leaving a mellow toasted feel instead.
Something with such a strong personality is definitely not for everyone and probably only suitable for occasional use, but it remains arresting.

Eau de Nyonya requires a good shake before spraying. Droplets of something dark separate from the remaining liquid when it rests – a shake disperses them again.

10th April, 2017