Perfume Reviews

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Total Reviews: 49

Giorgio for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills

Giorgio for Men

A badly aged, cloying patchouli thang that you should not buy.

24th July, 2013

Mesmerize for Men by Avon


This 1992 Avon release is a straight forward fougere (lavender and coumarin) made just interesting enough by an herbal inflection of thyme and basil. Fulfills the traditional requisites of a masculine to cost nothing and work. One last point: a fragrance that can be this good given what must have been a practically nonexistent formula budget only underscores the blasphemy of mainstream perfumery. Now pull you pants up.

24th July, 2013

Chamade by Guerlain


I can, with no hesitation, name Chamade as one of the greatest perfumes ever made. The basic idea seems simple enough, a green aldehydic floral among many. But it's how Chamade presents this theme that makes it so great, so instantly recognizable. On a horizontal axis, the perfume operates on the standard trope of cool to warm, from icy green to golden sunset, in the effortless grace that can only be described as French. The quality of every chord in this range is astounding, each steeped in the richness, abstraction, and homophonic mastery that is the hallmark of Jacques Guerlain's style. The greatness doesn't stop here. Chamade is special also in in that is has that rarest quality: surprise. Every time I put the stuff on, I am shocked by the moment when it sheds it hardened mein for an intense chord of rose, amber, and coffee-like wood that can only have been the product of divine intervention. And the drydown! Has there ever been a finale at once so comforting and interesting? Many perfumes are beautiful; many are interesting. But very few, Chamade included, can be considered both. Monumental.

24th July, 2013
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Insolence Eau de Toilette by Guerlain


Maurice Roucel's work is some of the most refreshing in modern perfumery. His best perfumes, like Missoni and Broadway Nite, share an inimitable sense of humor and trashy happiness that makes you wonder why more brands haven't joined the party. Insolence edp is my favorite composition by Roucel thus far. Its brilliance is its ability to be at once terrifically trashy and perfectly constructed, like a faultless drag queen. The L'Heure Bleue-like center of orange flower, violet, and heliotrope is flanked by a huge tobacco-tinged tuberose and a delicious capsicum note, adding up to an essay in perfect counterpoint. Beautiful, distinctive, and memorable, Insolence will always be an embarrassing treasure.
14th May, 2013

Week-end à Deauville / Week-end in Normandy by Nicolaï

In the press for Weekend, Patricia de Nicolai writes that "...legislation limits still further the molecules that can be used to recreate [lily of the valley]. It’s goodbye to Lilial, Lyral, Hydroxy and sweet bell-flowers!" You know it's a bad sign when the perfumer goes so far as to apologize for her work. Despite this, I was hoping that Ms. de Nicolai was just being humble. Not so: the perfume is no good. It is a confused, half-worked out thing that tries at once to be a lily and a sour woody masculine. The result is a rough, mostly unpleasant, and above all cheap-smelling perfume. One of the worst in a mostly great line.
14th May, 2013

Miriam by Tableau de Parfums

Andy Tauer's earlier perfumes, from Le Maroc Pour Elle to Incense Rose, are imaginative and beautiful, but his recent compositions have tended toward the boring (Orange Star) and downright bad (Loretta). Miriam's nice smelling, if unadventurous, basic idea of aldehydes and amber places it in the first pack. What happened to Andy's ingenuity?

22nd March, 2013

Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift

The only thing striking about WS is how intensely derivitive it is--another shampoo and woody amber fragrance that is almost too boring to comment upon.
22nd March, 2013

1889 Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

Histories de Parfums consistently turns out beautiful, thoughtful fragrances, and 1889 is no exception. Its central chord of iris and musk is somber and very pretty, and is accentuated by a clever pear ester which evokes a beam of light breaking through a grey sky. Great work.
22nd March, 2013

24, Faubourg Eau de Parfum by Hermès

While 24 is very nice, with its big chord stretching from balsam to iris and everything in between, it feels shapeless and faceless, like a big puff of powder you could walk right through without ever noticing.
15th March, 2013

Jubilation 25 by Amouage


It never fails to upset me when fragrances do this: they get two-thirds of the chypre structure right, from the bracing bergamot top to the perfectly judged amber middle chord, but omit--no doubt for regulatory reasons--the bitter oakmoss finale that makes chypres so distinctive and wonderful. Jubilation 25 is a textbook example of this two-thirds execution, which, even with its perfect proportions and deep meaty and peachy glow, feels frustratingly unresolved.
11th March, 2013

Eau Sauvage Parfum (original) by Christian Dior

Eau Sauvage parfum is disappointing largely because it's structure tells you what it could have been with more money. It's basically a cologne (genre, not concentration) with a touch of chypric backbone; the problem, though, is that this chypre structure feels exceedingly cheap, from the flimsy amber to the plasticky vetiver as seen in Grey Vetiver. ES's only saving grace, it turns out, is a good top chord of anisic bergamot which, as so often happens, indicates that all the cash went into the first ten minutes. Too bad.
24th February, 2013

Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford


A thin, unremarkable citrus vetiver that doesn't require further comment.
22nd February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

A*Men / Angel Men by Thierry Mugler


As legions of perfumes have affirmed, it's difficult to improve on Angel's deliriously trashy and husky structure. Released two years after its mother, A*men tones down Angel's monstrous cassis backbone, keeps the tarry dissonance, and throws in a camphoraceous lavender to ensure men that they are indeed on the right side of the perfume aisle. Overall, very good, though not nearly so wonderful as its archetype.
22nd February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)
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No. 5 by Chanel

Chanel No. 5 edp (***)

No. 5 edp is great until you realize it smells like Baghari, only with a heady floral section to make it float and a Polysantol slab to weigh it back down.
19th February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

S-ex by S-Perfume


S-ex is weird little thing revolving around a plastic accord, with a touch of something vaguely citrusy up top and musky down below. Overall a little bare, and could serve as a basic idea in a more realized perfume.
19th February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana


Apparently Dolce & Gabbana decided that a demure shampoo fragrance wasn't vile enough, for the woody amber in this thing hisses like a pissed off cat. Really bad.
19th February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

Dior Homme by Christian Dior


The true precursor to Dior Homme is likely Hanae Mori's HM, a monstrous, hissy cassis and vanilla. DH, while retaining HM's fruity core, thankfully scales everything down to a tolerable level and adds a touch of iris up top and cake batter below. The result? Another delicious, slightly boring gourmand that will appease generations of clubbers to come, and maybe even draw in a few parents.
19th February, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

Tzora by Anat Fritz


A well done earthy-citrus typified by Terre d' Hermes. Where Terre was occasionally rough, however, Tzora is round and polished, and a delicious dried-apricot at its heart ensures it is not so derivative as to raise alarm.
30th January, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2013)

Jasmin et Cigarette by Etat Libre d'Orange

Forget the associations with husky bar-hound chain smokers-- JeC evokes nothing of the sort. Warm and uplifting, this fragrance should be worn while spinning in circles and singing "The Hills are Alive."
18th January, 2013

Ubar Woman by Amouage

Middle-eastern aesthetic and interesting name aside, Ubar is none other than a trashy-fruity floral. But where most other fragrances in this vein are done on the cheap, Ubar is of exceptional quality, suggesting that this dreaded genre can, in truth, be wonderful.
11th January, 2013

Les Nombres d'Or : Vetyver by Mona di Orio

Vetyver is a nice fragrance: it is dynamic, wearable, likeable, complex. But at the same time, it feels empty. After Vetyver's fantastic initial combination of nutmeg and ginger, the heart juxtaposes two unfriendly notes: musk and vetiver. The musk casts an uncomfortably clean and sweet light on its grassy counterpart, creating a weird, soulless, and unnatural aura. As it progresses, however, Vetyver introduces a dirty tonka bean and cistus combination than smells of a delicious, sun-baked mushroom lying on warm dirt.

The strange progression from musky cleanliness to warm dirt sounds like it should work. It doesn't. The beautiful head and base chords cannot hide the empty heart, which could have been executed much, much better. Vetyver's fault lies in its inconsistency.

Very frustrating.
17th October, 2012 (last edited: 31st October, 2012)

Jubilation XXV by Amouage

Analysis, while often useful, can be debilitating: it can transform us into cold, detached warmongers who can't allow beauty to be beautiful. But perfumes like Jubiltion XXV shut that analysis up. XXV is beautiful. And nothing, not even the most seasoned grouch can take that away.
17th October, 2012

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I was initially unappreciative, disappointed even, by Timbuktu; I expected a huge, exotic, woody blast...but boy was I wrong.

Timbuktu is significant in its understatement, in its shimmering radiance. Its marriage of sandalwood, incense, cardamom, and vetiver may initially seem spartan, but proves exceptional, reminding us that the ethereal is not always the ephemeral.

24th September, 2012 (last edited: 12th February, 2013)

White Musk by Body Shop

Sweet basil, bland vanilla, and some cheap smelling flowers, all tied up in an Easter egg-pink musk.

21st September, 2012

Fleurs d'Oranger by Serge Lutens

A well-rendered orange blossom that starts off with a tuberose angle before drying down to warm, creamy flower. Beautiful, with staying power to boot.
20th September, 2012 (last edited: 24th September, 2012)

Black Aoud by Montale

A fantastic aoud and rose marriage that is too quickly ruined by a crappy wood base.

I suspect the spartan list of ingredients--aoud, rose, patchouli, and mandarin--are to blame for Black Aoud's rapid disintegration. Too bad.
20th September, 2012

Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

More of a marketing ploy than true perfumery.

How much skill does it take to buy some Iso E Super and then redistribute it?
05th September, 2012 (last edited: 18th January, 2013)

La Nuit de L'Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

Comfortable, sweet, handsome.

Nothing revolutionary, but still solid.
05th September, 2012

Passion by Elizabeth Taylor

A loud, nondescript, sweet monster.

Nothing passionate about it.
05th September, 2012

Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

I must admit-- Feminite du Bois is, for me, not an easy piece to review.

It's not that FdB is offensive, superficial, or weird. It's not that it is apologetic or pretentious.

It's beautiful, surely, but....

Let me go back to the root of my problem. A few days ago, I was reading a paper written by Jean Carles, and in this paper he suggested that a common trap for perfumers is to create well-rounded perfumes; that is, to draw no attention to any single facet of the fragrance.

This is where my initial problem laid. Feminite du Bois is exactly what Jean Carles prescribed against: it is perfectly rounded--no single ingredient assumes prominence, no single characteristic defines the fragrance.

But Jean Carles didn't live long enough to smell Feminite. He must not have foreseen the possible advantage of a well-tuned fragrance, of a fragrance that employs equal constituents to create a perfect harmony.

This is the nature of Feminite. The plummy fruit, the cedar, the snubbed out candle, the violet: none assume dominance during the fragrance,yet each facet is perfectly in tune, creating a beautiful melody.

This must be why perfume historians refer to FdB as a revolutionary fragrance: the perfume shattered the conception that linear, perfectly harmonious pieces were inferior to discordant ones. Thus Feminite is not only beautiful, but also represent a paradigm shift in modern perfumery.

05th September, 2012