Reviews by freewheelingvagabond


Menthe Fraiche / Fresh Mint / Eau de Menthe by Heeley

Menthe Fraiche is very true to its name. The opening is fresh mint- very honest and none of the sugar/toothpaste/chewing gum effect here. However it is extremely brittle and fleeting on skin. The tea note comes out more in the heart phase. There not much development thereafter, as the composition dries down to an almost imperceptible woody base. The longevity is sorely lacking.

It is extremely similar in performance on skin to Eau de Orange Verte by Hermes. Factor in the somewhat absurd price, and the natural response would be why bother?

If one is looking for a fragrance with only mint, and mint (of the good type)- then here it is. However, it would be advisable to decant out a small portion in a travel spray- this will require reapplication now and then. I guess it must be near impossible to come up with a long lasting fresh mint fragrance of this type.

On the other hand if you are looking for a quality fragrance where mint is dominant but not the only star, check out Geranium pour Monsieur.
12th May, 2015

Cuir Cuba Intense by Nicolaï

What's in a name?

Not much, if we are to look at (read go sniffing) Cuir Cuba Intense. There is neither the leather, nor any evocation of Cuba. Only some faint tobacco bears the possibility of a thin conceptual link, if any. Once we conveniently forget what it is called, it is a pretty palatable composition. In the opening there's the burst of sweet licorice and lemon with some florals in the background. There is a hint of freshness, perhaps attributable to the mint. The tobacco is near untracable. The lemon bids farewell as the composition turns less brisk and more soft and floral. The magnolia shines. The tobacco becomes more discernible. The licorice is omnipresent, so is the sweetness. There is a lavender, but it is hidden underneathe the licorice-magnolia pairing. There is some soft spicyness, but it's still mostly a sweet floral. There is little further transition as the fragrance enters its base. It is finally less sweet, but the magnolia never leaves. There are hints of soft patchouli and timid woods.

Overall, this is a sweet floral fragrance with vague hints of spices. Projection is good in the beginning and then dies down; longevity is decent. It is gender neutral. It is perhaps wearable on spring and fall afternoons to tea parties, and on summer evenings to the local boutique shop.

But there is no compulsion at all.
12th May, 2015

Silver Mountain Water by Creed

Silver Mountain Water from Creed is an interesting fresh fragrances. In the beginning there is an icy cool blast of citrus with an underlying blackcurrant note. It smells fresh, refreshing but also very different from many others in its olfactory group. The citrus fades but the blackcurrant note persists in the heart. The green tea note comes out slowly and mixes with the blackcurrant. The overall effect is what many have been referring to as the inky note. I only a faint resemblance of the smell of ink (or ink toner). On the contrary it is quite green, somewhat astringent, fresh and perhaps even a little smoky. It is not at all soapy, herbal or powdery. Rather it retains it has this sheen, at times almost metallic. The base is soft and woody, with a hint of sweetness.

This is one of those fragrances that I disliked at first, but it won me over. I find it more interesting than either Millesime Imperial or Virgin Island Water. I get decent projection and longevity. If you are in the market looking for a different take on a fresh fragrance, and willing to pay a premium, check this one out. Perfect for daytime wearings in spring and summer. Perfectly unisex.
11th May, 2015

1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums

1725 has a bright and brisk citrus opening. It is hard to pick out individually the bergamot or the grapefruit; all are well-blended. This citrusy phase is fleeting. Soon the lavender note presents itself as the composition settles on skin. The lavender is of very good quality and is supported by star anise and licorice. It may have a vague barbershop shop vibe, if any at all. The lavender, backed by the citrus, lends a hint of freshness to the composition. The vanilla note comes out much later, well into the heart phase. This is also where the sweetness develops, but that is quite measured. I am sometimes reminded of Caron pour un Homme. But for some reason the Caron comes off as a much more sparkling composition. I do not find the base powdery; rather it is soft, and somewhat dignified.

Unfortunately this fragrance is just a solid composition, but lacks any spark. It is not dull, but not remotely enchanting either. I much prefer 1899 or 1740 among the masculines from this house. Projection and longevity were average.
11th May, 2015

Encre Noire by Lalique

Encre Noire has a fantastic smoky opening- captivating and enjoyable. I guess iso e-super plays an important part here. As the great burst subsides, a deeply woody fragrance emerges. The cypress note is initially prominent, and is quite similar to the one in Eau des Baux. Cashmere woods contribute to the woodiness, while the vetiver holds together the composition. The vetiver in Encre Noire is earthy without being muddy or dirty, and has a hint of smokiness. It lends the fragrance a vague green vibe. On my skin Encre Noire dies down quickly and the dry down starts too quickly, which is unfortunate. The woodiness subsides as musk note peeps out and the vetiver continues to hum along.

Encre Noire is a very good and distinguished composition and perfectly unisex. It is definitely recommended to lovers of woods, smoky fragrances and vetivers. If you dislike iso e-super, you might want to avoid it.
30th April, 2015

Aventus by Creed

I've tried Aventus on several occasions over the course of using up two carded Creed sample vials. In the end I've been left somewhat underwhelmed each time. Aventus has fruity top notes where pineapple is the star. This pineapple note is persistent throughout the lifespan of Aventus. The fruity top notes give way to a more floral heart where I can pick out the jasmine. I do not get much of rose or patchouli. This floral accord seems instrumental in holding together the composition. It also seems to form a bridge between the fruity notes and the musky base. The drydown is mostly musk, some vague woods and the last rites of the pineapple. Unfortunately I've never gotten much smoke at all.
I could imagine this one being much more interesting if it was very smoky. In the absence of smoke, there is not much mystery left unsolved; the composition is somewhat flat. Pleasant, but hardly inspiring.
I would recommend people to check it out, but there are many other fragrances that are vastly more engaging. Especially at its price point, including a few from Creed itself.
30th April, 2015

Visit by Azzaro

Azzaro Visit is a nice cedar fragrance with a touch of incense. However, I personally could never warm up to it for some reason. I am inclined to believe it's the nutmeg. The fragrance is well blended, and it is hard to pick out individual notes. It is fairly linear over the course of its life on skin. I mostly smell cedar, nutmeg, some spices and incense. It is more cloudy than smoky. It has a particular ethereal character that is quite appealing. However, it is not fleeting and reasonably tenacious.
I feel if the calibration was a bit different, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Particularly if the nutmeg was toned down. In its current self it is still an enjoyable fragrance and I recommend people to check it out. It is just not for me.
30th April, 2015

The Dreamer by Versace

Versace Dreamer is a strange floral tobacco fragrance that is often hard to understand. It has taken me considerable time to make some sense of it. It has lavender and some florals as the top notes, backed by an undertone of tobacco. The tobacco note in Dreamer feels closer to a cigarette, than pipe tobacco or tobacco leaves. There is also a gourmand like facet to this fragrance which is attributable to the use of tonka beans. Initially the lavender and florals are dominant; there is a vague clean-soapy vibe. One can imagine a man or a woman wearing freshly sauntered linens and smoking a cigarette in a redolent garden. As the transition to the heart occurs, the lavender note tones down and the tobacco becomes more prominent. After a few hours the fragrance enters its drydown phase. Now it's all a beautiful tobacco note accentuated by the sweetness of tonka beans, and the lavender-florals mostly a distant memory.

Versace Dreamer can be quite polarising, as it is not everyone's cup of tea. A very unique composition that smells good on most men, and absolutely gorgeous on the right woman.
30th April, 2015

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme is a fantastic leather fragrance with timeless feel and appeal. Like many fragrances from its era, VCA pH has a cacophonous array of notes and needs a few wearings to have the merest grasp about its depth and facets. It opens up on the skin with a beautiful dark green spicy soapy vibe with leather and deep woods lurking underneath; there is the citrus and the lavender, but completely overshadowed by this central green, dark spicy vibe. This opening in itself is cerebral, and arresting like few others. Then the green vibe subsides a bit. The fragrance moves into its heart phase. A dark, brooding masculine rose note presents itself, with the leather and the woods now more prominent. This rose note is almost a mystery- it takes at least 10 wearings to feel it. But once discovered, it is there every time. The fragrance is now a glorious cornucopia of leather, woods, spices and florals while simultaneously retaining its vague soapy theme. It is deep, dark, unmistakably masculine, and even brooding. The projection is good at first and then dies down, but the fragrance has great longevity. Even as the hours grow weary, its aura is perceived in the air around the skin.

A masterpiece.
27th April, 2015

Ambre Précieux by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

Ambre Precieux is an honest, solid amber composition that is a good representation of this genre. It opens up on the skin with a brisk lavender note. This initial phase is great- deep and vaguely spicy. This phase shortly ends as the amber note develops and asserts itself. It is not spicy, but rather balsamic- perhaps due to the myrrh. The vanilla hovers in the background but never becomes too much of a distraction. There is not much further development- only the amber-myrrh-vanilla combination becomes a warm, cosy, enveloping and intimate. The great thing about this fragrance is its perfect balance of sweetness. My only gripe is it is a little unexciting from the heart onwards.
Average projection, good longevity.
25th April, 2015

Musk to Musk by Montale

Montale's Musk to Musk is a very soothing, pleasant fragrance based on soft rose and oud notes, and a touch of musk. It opens up on the skin with a dollop of this oud-rose accord. This is not at harsh or loud; rather it is soft, subdued- almost with a sense of nobility. The clean musk note lurks underneath and begins to make an appearance as the fragrance transitions into its heart phase. There is no much further development that I can sense. The drydown of musk, oud and soft woods is very satisfying.

I agree with other people saying that this one is almost like a light version of Black Aoud. It is pleasant, airy and a great option for mild weather. I personally don't find it as satisfying as Musk Aoud, I'd have preferred a much stronger note of musk. Nonetheless this is a very good composition- definitely recommended to anyone seeking out a light oud based fragrance that is both pleasant and wearable. Performance, perhaps just a bit below the bar set by Montale, is still very good.
15th April, 2015

French Lover / Bois d'Orage by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

French Lover is an interesting composition. It is a damp, green, woody fragrance with a rugged, earthy vetiver note as the key central piece. I do not get much of incense. Rather I mostly sniff wet woods. I also find something in the beginning that smells vaguely of oranges. It is almost as if I'm sitting in a deep forest after a shower and peeling unripe oranges. The fragrance clears up a bit as it transitions into the base: the damp feeling subsides as a musky note develops.

While it is certainly interesting, I cannot call it engaging. Some might not find it very wearable. Average projection and longevity on my skin.
14th April, 2015

Vétiver Extraordinaire by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

I find Vetiver Extraordinaire to be good, but nothing extraordinary. It opens up on the skin as a bright fresh fragrance; but not too fresh such as Creed or Tom Ford. The vetiver note in question is clean and bright; not smoky or earthy. The pink pepper accentuates the fresh quality with a shimmering effect; it is almost glowing. The fragrance projects moderately and dries down to a soft base of woods with hints of musk and resin.

My biggest disappointment was in the fact that this just seemed to sit on the skin and was very soft. The performance was sorely lacking. I don't know if it's the fragrance- I'm assuming it is my own skin chemistry.

I'd recommend people to try this one out, and watch out for the performance. I'm sticking with Creed and Tom Ford.
11th April, 2015

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

Kouros opens up with spices and civet and musk- a strikingly beautiful vibe that is invigorating. The shimmering notes take a while to settle to exude cool. It's fresh, crisp, non-powdery and enveloping. A beautiful floral theme develops over the woody musky vibe at the heart of the composition. This phase is luscious, and intills in the wearer a sense of tranquility. Then the florals become more delicate as a gorgeous, subtle honey note appears. This phase of Kouros is magical. It is a dichotomy. The fragrance still retains its earlier feel of cool which is a brilliant counterpoint to this sensual honeyed warmth. The fragrance is now hot and cold at the same time. It is still airy, crisp, wonderfully nuanced with the honey note over the lush florals, and the musk as gorgeous as ever. It has been a journey - a transcendental olfactory experience. It has visual interpretations in fresh linen; men and women dressed up in the morning and going to work; spice markets and flower shops; the sweaty crowd of people in the hot streets as the breeze blows; children peeling and eating oranges; beautiful redolent gardens in bloom; porters busy at the docks as ships come in and go out; the din and hustle of the train station; the beautiful evening as the sun dies leaving the sky bathed in orange and scarlet, with a speck of dark grey cloud lurking somewhere.

I know of only one other fragrance which is as evocative and beautiful. It is called Fahrenheit.
05th April, 2015

Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Musc Ravageur is a wonderful composition centred around musk and clove. The initial impression is of a busy opening with hints of lavender. The transition to heart phase starts very soon where the cloves become more prominent. They finally subside to reveal a base of musk, woods with hints of vanilla. The overall fragrance is warm, cosy, enveloping and sensual. The musk is somewhere between clean and dirty. Musc Ravageur is a pleasure to wear and lasts a good time.

It is a beautiful interpretation of musk, and very distinguished too.
04th April, 2015

Uomo by Lorenzo Villoresi

Uomo has an array of notes covering citrus, spices and woods. The lemon, bay leaf, sandalwood and vetiver stand out and are more prominent than the others. Often compositions involving so many notes are a mess or incoherent. Uomo is superbly crafted, well blended and smells great. It has this sparkling character about itself- as many other great Italian fragrances with a classic vibe. However, the joyride is severely shortened by poor longevity. Reading the reviews I discover that I am not the only one. Projection is average as long as it lasts.

I agree with Marais that this fragrance is very natural smelling, which perhaps comes at the cost of poor longevity.

I am compelled to give a neutral rating due to its performance. I would have considered it bottle-worthy otherwise and wholeheartedly recommended it to both men and women. As long as it continues to disappear in less than 4 hours, I would continue to look elsewhere.

If you strongly prefer natural smelling fragrances but don't mind substandard longevity, this one is worth checking out.
20th March, 2015

Royal Oud by Creed

Creed's Royal Oud has one of the best openings I've ever encountered in any fragrance. It has a sparkling woody start, where one can detect sandalwood, cedar and pink pepper. This lasts for a fair amount of time before the heart phase begins. At this juncture it settles into a smooth, creamy, woody fragrance and this vibe lasts till it fades on the skin. One can carefully detect some faint musk and citrus; but they are in the background- present only to embellish this wonderful woody scent. I get a very nice natural-smelling sandalwood note in this one. There is a lot of heated debate about whether it actually has any agarwood in it or not. I'd request people to just relax and enjoy this great offering from Creed. The only drawback is that it could greatly benefit from better projection and longevity; it is quite average in those regards.

A must try for everyone, particularly for those looking for a smooth woody fragrance.
18th March, 2015

Idole Eau de Parfum by Lubin

Idole edp has a very good, even great opening with rum, saffron and the other ingredients creating a spicy, boozy effect. I really like this phase of the fragrance; unfortunately it doesn't persist beyond one hour or so. The booziness disappears, the spices become soft and unexciting and a nondescript woody vibe emerges. I almost feel cheated.

Projection is good in the beginning, but everything dies down quickly. Poor longevity.
18th March, 2015

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Kyoto by Comme des Garçons

Kyoto is a very dry, austere incense fragrance. Sometimes even ethereal. Upon application one immediately senses a cloud of incense over some greens and faint woods. It is subtle, vaguely warm and cool at the same time, and stark. While I appreciate the composition, I find it too abstract and minimal for my tastes. Almost a skin scent, and longevity is average.
18th March, 2015

Eros by Versace

Eros is another uninspiring release from the house of Versace. It opens up with citrus-fruity accord and smells good for the first few minutes. But then the tonka bean, vanilla and other notes set in, leading to a gourmandish mess. It is in the same ballpark as modern clubbing fragrances such as Le Male and 1 Million. In this particular olfactory niche the bar for being a decent composition is rather low, but this one still misses the mark.

The bottle looks good, the cap outright tacky.
10th March, 2015

Le Mâle by Jean Paul Gaultier

Le Male is one of my few blind buys, and I regret it. It is constructed around a minty lavender opening and heart, and a sweet base of vanilla, musk and amber. I get some faint spices and woods throughout its lifespan on skin, but the trinity of mint, lavender and vanilla dominates everything else. While it scores for being quite original in scope and execution, I don't personally find the overall scent to be very agreeable. Moreover it seems to diffuse this sophomoric vibe and I cannot take it seriously at all. After hearing about all the wonders, I find its performance on my skin to be pretty average.

For some reason I feel this would smell better on a woman. But I'm not recommending it to anyone.
10th March, 2015

Arber by Body Shop

A somewhat unique smelling citrus fragrance with some musky wood notes in the base. Smells good, but lacks any bite in either projection or longevity.
10th March, 2015

Starwalker by Montblanc

A weak and superfluous offering from Montblanc.

It has some citrus and musky notes, but is derivative and doesn't project or last long. It appears that this fragrance is almost afraid to express itself.

Perhaps this could be good for scenting the bed sheets.
10th March, 2015

Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

Opens up on the skin with an air of nothingness. This is apologetic for being what it is, and one has to be apologetic about wearing a fragrance before considering this one.

One might as well bath in Evian and wear freshly laundered clothes to get the same effect.
10th March, 2015

Original Vetiver by Creed

Original Vetiver remains, by some distance, the best fragrance I've smelled from the house of Creed. It is fresh, green, grassy and soapy. It opens up on the skin a very vibrant green fresh fragrance. About thirty minutes into the application it starts to emit the most gorgeous wafts I've ever encountered in any fragrance. This sensual experience continues into the drydown, where it becomes soft, alluring and vaguely musky.

Vetiver is the major player in this fragrance. But as with Creeds, this vetiver comes from the stem of the vetiver grass rather than its roots, which lends the fragrance the fresh green aroma. There is some ginger to add some zing and mild spiciness. And there is some sandalwood to provide a rounded feel. Overall it smells utterly delightful.

In summer, this is usually what I'd choose to wear over everything else.
08th March, 2015

Duc de Vervins by Houbigant

Being a lover of green fragrances, I had to seek it out sooner or later. And I didn't find it agreeable.
No offence, but even though I love and wear 95% of the old school classics, I'm not a fan of Drakkar Noir. Duc de Vervins is a greener and somewhat fresher version of Drakkar Noir, if there ever was one. If you like either Drakkar Noir or green fragrances (and don't dislike the other), you might like this. I'm now intrigued about the common note in Drakkar Noir and this one that I don't seem to like.
Performance in terms of projection and longevity was pretty good.
08th March, 2015

Interlude Man by Amouage

Where Memoir Man falls short, Interlude Man gets it right. The traditional masculine notes of woods, leather and tobacco are replaced by amber and resins. The result is an astonishing blend of incense and sweetness that is a unique olfactory experience. It seems to project more and last longer even than most other Amouages.
08th March, 2015

Memoir Man by Amouage

It seems to me there are two ways of doing incense. One is the Ellena-esque minimalist style pioneered by Comme des Garcons in their Incense series. Montale Full Incense pretty much conforms to that. The other one is to take incense and mix it up with citrus, spices, woods, resins and deliver a final fragrance that is sumptuous, breathtaking in its depth and intoxicating with its delightful array of notes when done right. Amouage seems to do this better than most, and Memoir Man could almost be a testimony to that fact. What prevents it from being so is the flinty, almost mineral-like direction it takes from about the end of heart phase to its base. The other issue at hand is that it seems to refer to, in its own way, most of the classic masculines of the 70s and the 80s. That is something that unfortunately doesn't work here.

Nonetheless it's still a solid release. As with most Amouages, very good projection and longevity.
08th March, 2015

Versace l'Homme by Versace

My review is for the current formulation.

L'Homme is hands down the best masculine fragrance from Versace (though the competition isn't very stiff...). It is a classic woody leather fragrance. It opens at the beginning with clean sparkling citrus notes of lemon. The citrus gives way to a sharp but smooth leather note with a hint of florals as the woody character of the fragrance comes into its own. The woody leather theme is retained in the dry down as the floral element makes room for a faint musky note.

L'Homme is a very versatile fragrance with decent projection and longevity. It's not my favourite fragrance in its genre (I prefer the superb Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme). Nonetheless, it's still a solid fragrance.
08th March, 2015

M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

This review is of the first version which had dark glass on all sides.

M7 by Yves Saint Laurent came out at a time when this house was churning out great fragrances, and this is one of them. It's hard to know to what extent Tom Ford pushed the creation of such daring releases, one can only speculate. The oud boom in western perfumery started perhaps sometime around 2007. M7 is arguably the first western fragrance to use oud, and in 2002, was way ahead of its time. Perfumers Jacques Cavallier and Alberto Morillas together are credited with creating this masterpiece.

M7 is a stunning woody oriental centred around agarwood, with notes of amber and vetiver surrounding it. There is some hint of citrus at the beginning. The fragrance has been said to have a sweet, syrupy, medicinal vibe, which is effectively the oud-amber combination. I am personally grateful that it doesn't have vanilla which often makes such compositions overtly sweet. M7 wears like a dream, projects well and stays on skin a long time. Like many other great fragrances, it has haunting evocative qualities. If I would had to pick only one oriental, this would be it.

I won't take the trouble of finding another vintage bottle once my existing one runs dry. The scent will fade; sentiments will not.

08th March, 2015