Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

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Total Reviews: 330

Chrome Legend by Azzaro

This is complete garbage, and I would add that it wasn't always like this. Years ago it did smell like a fresh fruity aquatic, albeit synthetic; something in the territory of Nautica Voyage. Now this reeks of harsh metallic aromachemicals, with unbalanced blending. Now it's in the same camp as Ferragamo's Incanto Blue, though the latter is worse.

For what its worth, Nautica Voyage is a much superior alternative based on current versions. Seriously, even Aqua Velva Ice Blue smells much nicer for a fraction of the cost. Yes, it's in the same general category as Acqua di Gio, but the difference in quality is about the same as the difference in price.


1.5/5
17th January, 2019

Davidoff by Davidoff

This, right here, is probably the most glorious example of what a citrus leather can be. This is no Bel Ami, where citrus is just a brief prelude. This is a no holds barred citrus aromatic floral leather with a big punch of oakmoss. In fact, I primarily think of it as a neon green citrus in the best possible way, lit up by a heady mix of florals with the darker notes of leather and moss lurking underneath. That doesn't perhaps describe how it actually smells like - it is sophisticated, but, more than anything else, incredibly suave and smooth. Something that I'd tag as 'something classic, something Italian'. Yes, Versace L'Homme and Moschino pour Homme are in the same genre, but the Moschino is more subdued and restrained with less of the citrus. And, Versace L'Homme is a bright, big lemon-leather, but the Davidoff is a tad more complex. What I find absolutely incredible here is that the lime stands out, together with lemon, and the citrus notes are deftly supported by herbs that lend a certain ruggedness, a refined aura, and furthermore accentuated by a bouquet of carnation and jasmine that add a sheen and radiance that is unique, a brilliance that is found in only rare gems like Givenchy's Insense. Moreover, the in the mid phase and in the later dry down, there is a hint of a tobacco note, a genius allusion that is not often encountered in modern scents.

I usually reach for the Davidoff in cold weather, though it does just as well in the heat. It has an extended duration on skin of over eight hours, and the projection is very strong with thick sillage for the first three to four hours, though it later calms down appreciably. I've surprisingly been complimented (something that very rarely happens) on this scent many times by different people. The personality of this scent is very much masculine, perhaps someone a bit more dashing than reserved, with a sharp suit, patent leather dress shoes and stainless steel watch, and a sports car. It does smell a lot like several other 80s fragrances, but it has aged better than many others, and is more than just nostalgia. I would mention that Vermeil pour Homme is in very similar ballpark, with a more noticeable tobacco note and toned down florals, and sort of a 2D interpretation of Davidoff. I would also note Christopher Street (Charenton Macerations) to be a modern mossy citrus leather with florals that could be imagined to be a contemporary interpretation of Davidoff.

Davidoff is one of those very rare examples where everything comes together to create a remarkable perfume. In my view, it is as good as anything Davidoff has ever brought to the market. I always find it to be uplifting and reassuring, and it never fails to puts me in the mood to go out and see more of this world.


4/5
25th December, 2018

Bois Rouge by Tom Ford

I am a little baffled after wearing Bois Rouge and comparing its listed notes with what I smelled. My perceptions are also rather different in its details from what most reviewers assess this scent to be. I primarily find it to be a spicy, woody scent with prominent leathery undertones. I find an accord of woods and leather that isn't far removed from Bel Ami or Declaration. I find Bois du Portugal mentioned, but they are somewhat different in my books due to the nature of the spices. While I am not able to isolate individual spice notes in the Creed, Bois Rouge smells of something that distinctly hints at cumin. On my skin, Bois Rouge lasts an appreciable six to seven hours with moderate projection for about the first three hours.

Bois Rouge isn't anything special, but a decent, commendable woods fragrance in an overcrowded genre. I find it to be a tad synthetic smelling at times (as is usual with Tom Ford Private Blends) as opposed to something like Bois du Portugal or Bel Ami which possess natural elegance. Bois Rouge has some mild smokey aspects that add a dimension of interest. Bois Rouge sits at the cross roads of the leathers (Bel Ami) and woods (Bois du Portugal), but is much less distinctive than something like Declaration that occupies the same niche in my books. Overall, Bois Rouge is more likely to appeal to Tom Ford collectors than discerning enthusiasts.

It is nice, but is nice good enough?

3/5
25th December, 2018
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Grimoire by Anatole Lebreton

Grimoire (lovely name) is mostly a cumin driven leather fragrance to me. In my books, it is Declaration meets Puredistance M Light minus the vanilla. I love cumin, and the aforementioned duo, so I naturally find much to like in Grimoire. All other notes (lavender, resins) are lost on my skin. I do detect a woody undertone from the cedar (don't get much patchouli either) that counterbalances the cumin. Cumin is definitely the star, showcasing its wonderful warmth and radiance. Still, Grimoire is somewhat subdued on my skin. While what I smell on skin is captivating, what I smell via projection is less striking. Sillage is moderate and persistent, and duration is good - at least seven hours from a dosage of ~ 0.8 ml.

While I find Grimoire to be an attractive leather fragrance, I feel it is rather redundant (to me, anyway) given the existence of Declaration (and its flankers), Eau d'Hermes and M. Grimoire could be a nice signature scent for discerning women and men. However, I feel Declaration and M are the scents I'd lean back on. Finally, I should perhaps re-emphasize this: nothing in this smells even remotely of lavender to me. While it's indeed a nice scent (one could do far, far worse), I feel the lack of uniqueness or any novelty leaves me somewhat uninterested. Definitely recommended if you are a fan of this style/niche of perfumes; this could become your second skin.


3/5
27th November, 2018

Infusion d'Homme by Prada

Now that the dust has settled on the first decade of this century, I find it easier to think about Infusion d'Homme in relation to what it captures for me, and how much I've remembered it. Among mainstream releases marketed to men, it is one of the best of that decade. I recall trying it many times at stores together with other perfumes, and its smell was always lost on the test strip: I simply couldn't smell anything in the olfactory cacophony of other perfumes sprayed in the same environment.

A few years down the line I tried it from a small decant, received due to the courtesy of a Basenotes friend. I was struck by its soft-hazy yet clear form. It reminded me of Mugler Cologne because of the soap; however, while Mugler was fun and uplifting, Infusion d'Homme was sombre and introspective. I found it to bear some similarities with Bois d'Argent, in part because of the iris and the myrrh, and in part because of their personalities. Years later when I'd sampled Iris de Nuit, I found they sometimes speak in the same language, but always tell different stories. Infusion d'Homme was always compared to Prada Amber pour Homme, and they had many similarities, both being fresh, interesting and reminiscent of soap, but with one key difference: Amber pour Homme was warm and friendly, while Infusion d'Homme was cool and aloof.

If you like Christian Dior's aesthetic of pale greys and pastel pinks, Infusion d'Homme could be for you. I find it soft yet gently persistent, with notes of clean iris, a light and moody incense, and a touch of myrrh; they together manage to create something airy, and an accord that is a dead ringer for soap. A good quality bar of white soap; very simple but quintessentially chic and androgynously beautiful. Yet, the most unique feature of this scent is its subtlety, and that, it is inoffensive and always appropriate; and another very interesting aspect is that it is clean, soapy yet shyly sensuous and intimate, while completely shunning any conventional notes used for such effects. On my skin it sits quietly with soft occasional wafts, and duration is moderate at about six hours. It's been one of my most worn scents, and it's been uplifting in the heat and comforting when cold.

I once read a comment on a blog post about Infusion d'Homme: "young people, especially single, could use this". For some reason, those words have stayed with me; maybe because I did use it quite a bit in my twenties. These days I find it more calming than before; it reminds me of the cacophony that it got drowned in, and I connect it to the cacophony of a world that gets messier each day. It doesn't solve life's problems, but it is comforting. If I weren't nuts, I'd have worn it everyday.



4.5/5


P.S. Infusion d'Homme has been discontinued. I have tried Infusion d'Iris Cedre on paper and on skin, and it is at least 98% identical. I attribute the difference of 2% to my vivid imagination. The prices are not identical.

25th November, 2018

Prada L'Homme Intense by Prada

After having worn Prada L'Homme Intense a few times, I feel it speaks to me more about the mainstream modern masculines than what it exactly is. It is a mainstream modern masculine, the ubiquitous 2018 mall fragrance, but done at a level that is several notches above the average competition. Daniela Andrier, who's been creating perfumes for Prada for over a decade, has created a fragrance that has its roots in Dior Homme, but is more mass appealing (if that is possible? Wasn't Dior Homme mass appealing?). L'Homme Intense, of course, is directly related to Prada L'Homme, which is in similar ballpark, albeit fresher and more powdery. L'Homme Intense has notes of iris, tonka - essentially a toned down "lipstick accord" from Dior Homme / Dior Homme Intense, with a touch of leather, the leather that is apparent in the Dior Homme DNA. On my skin, L'Homme Intense has subdued but noticeable sillage, and a solid duration of at least six hours based in moderate weather.

Now I intend to discuss my principal issue with L'Homme Intense: it smells as if I've spent all day at Sephora. Again, one could do far worse. However, the detraction in this case is the loss of the personal. It doesn't smell like a person, but rather captures the smell of the perfume aisle of the shopping mall (perhaps because that's what they spray in the air?). It is intended as a more serious fragrance (as opposed to a fun, sporty cologne), but it is not sensuous or intimate. This is not (only) my personal take, but the opinion of three non-perfumista friends. It also does smell a tad synthetic (what doesn't, these days?), but because the central underlying accord doesn't have any occurrence or parallel in nature, rather than any clumsy treatment or issues of budget (I believe that any such thing wouldn't be composed/released by Andrier/Prada). L'Homme Intense, nonetheless, marks a solemn personal moment of "not how it used to be": it definitely cannot replace on my shelf any of the earlier Prada favourites - Amber pour Homme, Infusion d'Homme or Amber pour Homme Intense.


3/5
25th November, 2018

Lemon Line by Mancera

I'd give the disclaimer that Lemon Line runs quite contrary to my tastes, especially these days. I don't find the concentrated citrus genre particularly appealing; I prefer my citrus frags to be classic and fleeting eau de colognes (Imperial, Cologne Sologne), or updated modern versions that are still rarefied but add noticeable legs (Mugler Cologne, Allure Homme Sport Cologne), or other citrus classics where the base is heavier and distinct and there are interesting transitions (from the lighter Eau Sauvage and Acqua di Parma Colonias to heavier citrus leathers such as Davidoff and Versace L'Homme).

Lemon Line doesn't really fit in with the aforementioned; instead, it is closer to the modern 'concentrated citrus' canon of Neroli Portofino, Cologne Indelebile or Aqua Viva (and is closest to the latter in terms of scent profile). I feel one would also get some parallels with Chanel's Allure Homme Sport Edition Blanche.

Returning to Lemon Line, here are the pros: it does quite well what it's supposed to do - being a long lasting lemon perfume with adequate presence and sillage. Here are the cons: the overall vibe is somewhat synthetic, it isn't really fresh but is scaled towards the candied lemon territory (but it isn't sweet as such, thankfully), and can occasionally be reminiscent of lemon pledge. Lemon pledge isn't that bad; one can smell and smell of things far worse. Heck, it can even hint at lemon pies at times. I find it to be largely linear with notes of lemon (nothing fresh or natural, but rather dried and somewhat artificial) and something that vaguely hints at dried florals and musks and amber. The 'lemony' aspect gradually tones down over several hours as the dry down is largely shaped by a white musk, that's actually handled deftly: it gives a lot of body to the composition without being in-your-face synthetic or bordering close to laundry musk associations. To be blunt, the dry down is more pleasant than the initial few hours.

All in all, Lemon Line is a composition that you would probably like or not based on two broad criteria: a) whether you like this type of concentrated modern "dense" citrus compositions, and b) your tolerance level for perfumes that smell somewhat synthetic: in other words, are you generally okay with Montales and Manceras? If you're in for a), but not okay with b), be prepared to shell out twice as much for Aqua Viva. The key difference is that the Profumum is much more natural smelling, richer, sparkling; also, the Profumum has a woody base unlike the musks I smell in Lemon Line. If you can live with b), Lemon Line is definitely a very sound proposition.

In terms of strength and duration, I find Lemon Line to be better than Neroli Portofino, in the ballpark of Cologne Indelebile, and maybe just marginally below the Profumum. Please note that I'm referencing Neroli Portofino and Cologne Indelebile only for purposes of benchmarking; in terms of scent profile they are different (they are neroli driven compositions, while Lemon Line is about "Lemon Line"). Sillage is moderate to close (it's primarily a citrus frag), persistent, and duration is excellent at over six hours when worn in moderate weather.



2.5/5

(Note that the rating is largely reflective of personal preference, as explained above. This can be a 'home run' for the right target audience: which I am not.)
25th November, 2018

Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

One would expect a certain degree of polish from Frederic Malle perfumes, whether one likes the perfume or not. Monsieur. is an exception. It is an exercise in patchouli, although it doesn't come across as a 'routine patchouli'. It is overladen with woody-spicy notes, rum or whatever, and the patchouli is thick, dark without any softness or sweetness. However, it is also extremely one dimensional, banal, pointless, synthetic, and very irritating after an hour on the skin. It has a certain leathery aspect, but that's when one tries very hard to find nuances. For the records, sillage is moderate and duration is good on my skin.

The most puzzling aspect of Monsieur. is that is not rugged, but rather unrefined. It almost smells like an art patchouli perfume exercise gone wrong, and it feels that there has not been any edits. In fact, to be blunt, this is one of the most annoying perfumes I've ever tried. Very much a disaster, and easily one of the worst in the line.

1.5/5
04th November, 2018

Au Delà Narcisse by Bruno Fazzolari

This is a well executed fragrance that's an interpretation of the retro floral chypre genre. The bergamot is soft, leading to notes of narcissus and jasmine. The oakmoss is there in the dry down, though not a lot of it, unlike some vintages. I do not get orange blossom or amber at any stage of development. Sad, as I think they would've added another dimension. Somewhat unisex, could be a bit femme for some; sillage and projection are soft, though duration is moderate.

My tastes are shifting away from this style of perfumes. While it's nice, you might want to shop around for Givenchy III or other vintages. It is dry, and has some green elements, but is not a 'green chypre' like Dryad. Among modern stuff that revisit the chypre style, I prefer the richer and more nuanced Chypre Palatin, or the rugged MAAI.

3/5
01st November, 2018

Sycomore Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Yes, Sycomore EdT is a vetiver scent, and it's perhaps not as versatile as many other vetivers (because it's all of luxe, chic and root-sy), and sillage is close and longevity so-so, and moreover it's gone now.

So what?

Sycomore has one of the loveliest accords in perfumery, a rooty, smoky, haunting vetiver with touches of iris, aldehydes, cypress, all blended to perfection. My words are just words, but you must smell it. Some enjoy it in summers, I enjoy it in early fall for its autumnal qualities. Once the sparkling top fizzles out quickly, I find the scent almost to be a country cousin of Pour Monsieur.

Did I say it's memorable?

4.5/5 (Perhaps 3.5/5 considering price/concentration issues, but, for once, let us not be accountants. :-) )
19th October, 2018

Paestum Rose by Eau d'Italie

Peppery rose with a light, woody base. The rose is fresh and green, perhaps somewhat dewy. It stays away from the soliflore territory due to the embellishments. Next to the rose, there is an accord in the top and the mid phases that recalls vinegar, even brine. Paestum Rose is smart, chic and unisex with moderate sillage and duration.

Overall it's somewhat lacking in both depth and character. While nice, I find it to be limited next to stuff like La Fille de Berlin or Rossy de Palma. It also reminds me of Voleur de Roses, but the L'Artisan is more pale and interesting.


3/5
17th October, 2018

Old Spice Fresh Lime by Shulton

My experience is with the Indian versions, circa early 90s and later early 2010s. In the early 90s I remembered men in my family using this (my grandfather did). However, I have no recollection of how it smelled like. Later on in the early 2010s I bought the aftershave spray - on the cheap. That was basically Old Spice with a hefty dose of lime on top. The note of lime wasn't too realistic, but not synthetic smelling either, and it made for a bracing freshness. The recipe was a winner; I liked it more than Old Spice, and would drench myself in the stuff on the hottest of days, using it as an eau de cologne. It did hold up well, and it was crisp - not much powdery, and quite suave.

Perhaps not worth hunting down, but you'd do well to pick up a bottle if you come across one on the cheap.


3.5/5
15th October, 2018

Habit Rouge L'Eau by Guerlain

I had been curious about Habit Rouge L'eau for a few years, because of a few reasons. I love Habit Rouge, and L'eau is rated highly by many who love the original. Secondly, I love jasmine in perfumes, and L'eau purportedly contains a prominent dose. Lastly, I'm always on the lookout for a quality fresh fragrance (there aren't many), and what's not to like about a fresh twist on Habit Rouge?

Well, it turns out that L'eau is rather underwhelming. L'eau leaves out the wonderful lemon of Habit Rouge and uses orange - somewhat synthetic, and at odds with the rest of the structure. There is the jasmine, but its combination with the orange results in an accord that is jarring. I feel that it smells quite different from Habit Rouge, and the motif (or at least the key features of the Habit Rouge motif) is largely absent. There's no leather here. Instead, what I smell is a musky vanilla, semi-sweet, that combines with the jasmine and the orange to create a sickly, synthetic accord. I detect a similar accord in the dry down of Cologne du 68, with the major difference being the iris in 68 is replaced by the jasmine in L'eau. While sillage is low-key, L'eau drones on for hours and becomes increasingly grating.

L'eau emerges as yet another example of the difference between the Guerlain of then and the Guerlain of now, Jean Paul Guerlain and Thierry Wasser, and perfumery artistry vs. corporatocracy driven mediocrity. Sure, it's better than all the L'Homme Ideal nonsense, but that is not saying much.

Stick to Habit Rouge, or Le 3me Homme de Caron for your jasmine fix in a similar context, or L'eau Boisee if you crave freshness.


2/5
09th October, 2018
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Ferrari Essence Oud by Ferrari

Ferrari Essence Oud is a woody fragrance with oud, and little else. There is a fruity element in the initial phases, and the base is more woodsy, with just a hint of sweetness. There’s no vanilla, and this isn’t sweet by any means. The oud note is synthetic, and similar to one commonly found in other oud fragrances in similar price range. The composition is reasonably balanced, while sillage and duration are both good.

My main issue here is that the dominant oud note (and hence the composition) smells rather synthetic, and a little plasticky - especially in th first 1-2 hours. For the records, I have the same issue with Chopard’s Oud Malaki. I can imagine some liking that vibe, but count me out. IMO one is much better off with spending a bit more and getting something like M7 Oud Absolu which is more refined. Essence Oud is a good representative of its genre, but one I’d personally avoid. It’s somewhat youthful. This might work well as a night out fragrance for young college students on a budget.


2.5/5
05th October, 2018

Acqua di Giò Profumo by Giorgio Armani

Acqua di Gio Profumo is fantastic, one of the best mainstream releases in recent years. I don't care much for aquatics, and 90% of modern mainstream releases are a pass for me. However, Acqua di Gio Profumo is certainly an exception. It does have the DNA of the original Acqua di Gio which I like but don't love; however, it's a dark, spicy twist on that idea. There is a patchouli-incense accord here which achieves that. This results in something that is fresh but dark, and lots of depth. The other good thing here is lack of sweetness. I find sillage to be good, and duration excellent at over six hours.

Acqua di Gio Profumo, to me, is perhaps the best exhibit of the modern mainstream fresh-clean masculine genre. It has revived my interest in fresh fragrances, and more so in mainstream releases. It has also increased my respect for the prolific Alberto Morillas; I think this is his best work apart from Mugler Cologne. I find it to be quite different from Bleu de Chanel, and in my books this is what Bleu de Chanel could've been, but failed.

It's good in hot weather, but I find it even better on slightly cooler days (and nights).


4/5
05th October, 2018

Rive Gauche pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

While I started out liking fougeres, I've sort of moved on from them. There are several that I've worn and liked, even loved - from the classic Azzaro, to the futuristic Jazz, the verdant Tsar and the rich Nobile. However, the one that has stayed with me the most is Rive Gauche pour Homme. Nothing else matches its admirable qualities of being modern, cosmopolitan, but yet so fundamentally wholesome and grounded in the best qualities of traditional perfumes. It is a seamless blend with a seamless transition - the vivid lavendar-geranium is spiked with the freshness of rosemary and thyme, spiced up with star anise and clove (not medicinal, not strong, but deft and subtle) on a bed of soft patchouly and creamy guaiac wood. However, notes only tell part of the story, as the end product is as elementary and essential as a tailored fine white shirt; and while being spectacular, it is also very much an 'everyday' scent, doesn't seek attention or needs to stand out, but forms a distinguished, fragrant cloud around the wearer.

Rive Gauche pour Homme has become my most-worn scent, and as a fact I'm fairly familiar with its bits and parts. It is, perhaps, not fun the way Mugler Cologne is, or it doesn't make a statement like Kouros. However, it is effortless, and is a genuine contender for being a part of the curated wardrobe of a discerning gent. I can mention it in the same breath as New York Intense as being examples of fine gentlemanly scents that are indeed signature worthy, always appropriate, and, unfortunately, fast disappearing.


5/5
17th September, 2018 (last edited: 28th September, 2018)

Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Disappointingly thin elevator guy type scent with no sillage and short duration.

The idea is nice (aftershave), but the execution is sub par and an insult to the price tag.

One upside is that it's less synthetic smelling than the EdT.


2/5
17th September, 2018

Allure Homme Sport Cologne by Chanel

Allure Homme Sport Cologne is indeed a fresh, 'sporty' fragrance, with a synthetic but well done accord of citrus on a base of clean musk. Usually something along such lines end up being sub par; but here it is different. What I like about it is that the focus is soft and hazy - there's no shrill or sharp edge. It doesn't smell like a modern Chanel masculine; rather, it smells something that Hermes would probably release, save for the effect something akin to 'aldehydes' in the very beginning, toned down and very brief. The scent itself is very simple, but is fun and never intrusive. I find sillage to be close but persistent, and duration is surprisingly good at several hours in hot weather.


Allure Homme Sport isn't the best in its category on the market; Mugler Cologne is. However, Allure Homme Sport is a viable second choice, given how disappointing all masculine mainstream 'sport' fragrances or colognes are nowadays, especially with the demise of Dior Homme Sport. The other interesting aspect is that I imagine it work would quite well on women. Allure Homme Sport Cologne is probably something that was supposed to run totally contrary to my taste; yet, it doesn't, and I have bought myself a 150 ml bottle. It has quickly become a wardrobe staple in the hot weather.

3.5/5
02nd September, 2018

Bentley for Men Absolute by Bentley

I've waited a few years to try Bentley for Men Absolute (instead of blind buying it), and rightly so. I like very much Bentley for Men Intense, but Absolute doesn't make the mark at all. This is all the more surprising since this is rated to be similar to the discontinued Gucci pour Homme I (which I like). Yes, it is similar, but there is a key difference: it smells stale, stuffy and musty, before quickly fading on skin.

In this category of woody-incense, I still find Comme des Garcons 2 Man to be a benchmark, and one that I would suggest instead of the Bentley. If on a budget, even Azzaro's Visit compares favourably to Bentley for Men Absolute in my books.


2/5
18th August, 2018

Incanto Pour Homme Blue by Salvatore Ferragamo

Shrill metallic grapefruit combined with screechy aquatic notes on a base of synthetic detergent musks. I would consider it to be in the same genre as Nautica Voyage or Azzaro Chrome. I admit not being the biggest admirer of this style, but this is the worst I've tried from this category.

It didn't trigger any headache or nausea, but it did make me seriously question my love of perfumes.


0.5/5
28th July, 2018

Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather by Acqua di Parma

I didn't have high expectations from Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather, but it is indeed a nice leather fragrance, modern and sleek. No marks for originality, as it is very similar to Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather; so much so that having both is perhaps redundant. However, it doesn't have the fruity aspect of Tuscan Leather, and is instead citrusy. Colonia Leather is largely defined by a linear leather accord, smelling similar to brand new leather shoes, rich and dark but also with a nice suede aspect. There is an ashy element to the accord, especially in the beginning and mid phases, but it mellows down after a couple of hours. While unoriginal, given Tuscan Leather and the plethora of 'smellalikes', Colonia Leather is quite well balanced and edited, which shows the expertise of the perfumer.

Colonia Leather has good sillage and duration on my skin based on a moderate application. I am surprised to discover that it wears very well on summer days, and sillage is perhaps even better. If you can manage it without overbearing, this could be the leather counterpart to the summery suedes like Cuiron and Daim Blond. Leather is often an abstraction in perfumery, and Colonia Leather isn't abstract. It is not as refined as Cuir Cannage, Cuir d'Ange, Cuir de Russie or Cuir Ottoman, and it is not as complex as Cuir Mauresque or M. Whether one likes Colonia Leather (or Tuscan Leather, for that matter) depends on whether one likes or dislikes this principal smoky accord of leather. I happen to like it quite a bit.


3.5/5
21st July, 2018

Azzaro pour Homme Night Time by Azzaro

Azzaro pour Homme Night Time is a mixed bag for me. This actually could have been very good, if it didn't have a particular shortcoming. For a change, even though this is a relatively recent mainstream release, it isn't loaded with calone or melon or sweet/fresh woody ambers. It begins very promisingly with a juxtaposition of bright orange and rhubarb, quite well done; the orange is similar to the one in the original Jaguar (green bottle). The orange and rhubarb are paired with dry woody notes, with a hint of spice, though neither pepper nor nutmeg is prominent separately. However, then comes the collapse after about 2-3 hours in the dry down, which is just plain scratchy, synthetic woods. I don't know if this is a case of cash running out, though I would guess that to be likely.

I found Night Time to actually have good persistent sillage, and a good duration of over seven hours based on a moderate application. It is also somewhat unique in how it smells, I cannot immediately think of other fragrances that would be similar. The synthetic woods dry down, which would have been okay ten years ago when I was 21 and less picky, is a deal breaker today. It's a disappointment, as the fragrance is rather nice otherwise. Also, as you might have guessed, it bears no relation scent-wise to the original Azzaro pour Homme.


3/5
01st July, 2018

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme by Gucci

I find Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme to be a missed opportunity more than anything else. Here is a fragrance by Gucci, after all those tiresome non-perfume entities, that merits at least a second sniff. It is a leather-vetiver scent, and quite far removed from everything else among mainstream perfumes. It starts off on skin with a lush note of medicinal leather. The leather is characterised by a particular medicinal character that hints at antiseptics and hospitals, and yet is oddly compelling, even brilliant. It is by no means an outlandish accord, but it is odd among mainstream perfumes, and hence the reaction. However, this leather accord doesn't persist and transforms into a vetiver dominated accord within an hour, which is largely nice but rather underwhelming after the initial phase. I do not detect any patchouli or cypress at any stage of development. I also find it to be extremely subdued on skin, and it practically disappears in about four hours. I do note that the dry down is soft and sensuous, and this can be an interesting office scent for people who wear stuff like Cuiron.

Gucci Guilty Absolute is definitely a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with clichéd fresh woody-ambers. It is innovative. However, it fails short of the mark personally, largely due to its potency/concentration issues. As an innovative leather scent it brings to mind Fahrenheit, but is rather tame in comparison. Leather vetivers are not that novel, with Bel Ami Vetiver being perhaps the most immediate example. In the context of medicinal leathers that push the envelope, it is comparable to Arte Profumi's Fumoir, which is pricier but more compelling. In fact, I recommend Fumoir to those who would find similar shortcomings in the Gucci. Gucci Guilty Absolute does not change the world of mainstream corporate perfumes, but it makes one more hopeful about positive change.



3/5
13th June, 2018

Skin Bracer by Mennen


Note: Review is of the aftershave.


I would give the disclaimer that I'm only familiar with the aftershave version of Skin Bracer; I haven't seen any cologne formulation, though I admit not having looked hard. Skin Bracer is a mentholated aftershave that does precisely what it claims: provides a cooling blast of menthol and tones and moisturises the skin. I perceive the menthol content to be comparable to that of Ice Blue, and higher than that of Ice Sport. The scent is rather nice and is structured as a two part story - an initial spark of menthol that is quickly followed by a fougere accord that soon dries down to a warm base with hints of coumarin-like sweetness. I am surprised to find no harshness in the scent, which could perhaps be due to low concentration. It reminds me of Brut, but is softer. I am also pleasantly surprised to find that Skin Bracer works excellently on my skin, as a toner and also for a bit of moisturisation. I find this to be a marginally superior product to its competitor Ice Blue, and it can be useful for pairing as an aftershave with traditional fougere scents like Brut, Paco Rabanne pour Homme or Azzaro pour Homme.


3.5/5
12th June, 2018

Aqua Velva Ice Sport by Williams


Note: Review is of the aftershave.


I am not aware of Aqua Velva Ice Sport being available as a cologne; the only format I'm familiar with is the aftershave, which one can pick up for cheap at US and Canadian drugstores. I am currently on a menthol kick and greatly loving the cooling effect mentholated aftershaves provide after a wet shave. I thought that Ice Sport would feature a higher concentration of menthol than its progenitor Ice Blue and went for it; surprisingly, it does not. If anything, I sense more menthol in Ice Blue. The scent is indeed fresher than Ice Blue, and features an accord that is not unlike the lemon-verbena accord in Green Irish Tweed. That does make me question my sanity for having purchased the Creed at hundred times the price of Ice Sport; the consolation is that the Creed is richer and deeper, as one would expect, and not unreasonably. Ice Blue has a nice touch of warmth in the dry down that Ice Sport lacks, and other properties (astringency, moisturisation) are no better than those of Ice Blue.

All in all a largely superfluous product, but perhaps some consumers appreciate the variety.


2.5/5
12th June, 2018

Furyo by Jacques Bogart

Furyo is a musky, woody fragrance with a slight animalic twist. This is a crowded category (especially among vintages), but Furyo distinguishes itself with some wonderful touches of rose and jasmine, and a faint honeyed sweetness. The other accomplishment is that the emphasis is on the perfume rather than any shock value: it does very well on the Guy Robert test. Moreover, it doesn't emphasize 'masculinity', or being a 'powerhouse': there is definitely a subtlety here, as is a generous dose of romanticism. This possibly comes from the rich floral heart, and the slightly amber-y quality. The civet is there from beginning to end, but only to add a touch of sensuality.

The drawback is that the base appears somewhat thin, at least for my tastes. It's very engaging with a lush accord filled with subdued notes of amber, patchouli, and musk - but one would have preferred more richness. I find Furyo to exhibit moderate sillage, and good duration of six to seven hours on skin based on a conservative application of 4-5 sprays. Furyo is worthy of consideration if one's looking for an alternative to something like Kouros, but more floral, gentle and autumnal.


3.5/5
08th June, 2018

Mr. Vetiver by Une Nuit à Bali

Mr. Vetiver is a fresh, spicy-woody aromatic composition with a focus on cardamom and vetiver. The initial burst of citrus and cardamom makes it smell like a Declaration flanker for five minutes; soon a note of fresh geranium joins to brighten things. The cardamom gradually calms down over a couple of hours; the base of vetiver is soft, light, subtly sweet and a little nondescript.

While Mr. Vetiver is elegant, it touches on too many personal woody masculine clichés to be considered seriously. Sillage is good initially but diminishing, and the dry down is rather faint on my skin. This could have been more engaging if it had a more substantial base. It's also somewhat simplistic, and is one of those scents that one quickly grows tired of after a couple of wears.

This might be interesting for someone considering a spicy-aromatic vetiver that is mainstream and inoffensive, with the emphasis on 'mainstream' and 'inoffensive'; however, along similar lines, something like Mugler's Fougere Furieuse is far more compelling. Perhaps ideal for spring and fall weathers.

2.5/5
02nd June, 2018

Oxford & Cambridge by Czech & Speake

Brisk, conservative lavender - very English.

The lavender is paired with a restrained peppermint, similar to the one in Cuba, which livens up the composition. Rosemary is vaguely discernible in the accord, but adds a suave herbal freshness to the composition. The lavender paves way to a charming light mossy, woody base that persists for a few hours. Projection is low, sillage is close and duration on skin is average at around five hours based on a generous application.

Oxford & Cambridge is quintessentially classic, refined and cut from quality cloth - a notch above something like Penhaligons. What works here is that the resultant composition is simple, elegant and effortless. It is not dressy, but rather an everyday scent, perhaps even a comfort scent.

It also helps that the lavender here is quite good. While I personally prefer Encens et Lavande for a fresh lavender, Oxford & Cambridge is a noteworthy lavender fragrance together with Caron and Gris Clair.

While it is fresh, I find it to work best in temperate weather. Perhaps a little 'masculine', and a must try for wet shavers.


3.5/5
25th May, 2018

Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme Intenso by Dolce & Gabbana

More than five years ago I went through a bottle of Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme, made in Germany, which was a limited but respectable offering. Fast forward to 2018, and I am wearing Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme Intenso. I see many superficial similarities to the original, but here the scent is different.

Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme is basically redolent of a lemon scented high quality toilet floor cleaner. I get immediate flashbacks of toilet attendants handing out towels and intermittently spraying lemon-lavender fresheners in air and on the sparkling Italian (the Italian connection) floor tiles, while guys bathed themselves in Axe in the nightclub restrooms at Park Hotel, Calcutta, circa mid 2000s. This was in fact confirmed by my good friend (no perfume snob, has been wearing Acqua di Gio for a decade), who regularly played bass with rock bands at the said venue.

Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme Intense is lemon-lavender paired to aquatic notes and woody amber, but balanced and more towards the fresher side. However, it’s better suited as an excellent parfum d’ambience.


1.5/5
25th May, 2018

Dior Homme Sport (2012) by Christian Dior

I am a big fan of the 2008 version of Dior Homme Sport. A great casual summer fragrance, very lemony, rich and the lemon is paired to the brilliant central accord of Dior Homme, but only a smidgen of the latter.

Now exploring the 2012 iteration, I find that the lemon is toned down, while the Dior Homme accord is more prominent together with ginger. So far so good, it would seem. However, the dry down, as so often, is where everything comes apart. It degenerates into an overly synthetic smelling accord of woods, to the point of being abrasive. In comparison, this would make something like Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport Cologne Sport seem like composed of rare essential oils.


1.5/5
25th May, 2018