Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

Total Reviews: 108

Oud by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

A weak, nondescript, insipid, and banal offering without any redeeming characteristic. A burst of saffron followed by a flat watery-transparent note of vague woody-florals supported by MFK's signature dull patchouli accord. Disintegrates into nothingness in three hours.

16th February, 2017

Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Sartorial is a conventional fougere with a twist: there are some added metallic and sweet notes. It starts off smelling very similar to the iconic Brut, only being a bit more complex and an added depth. There is a metallic element in the heart, and after about 2-3 hours a semi-sweet, honeyed beeswax note creeps in to give it more substance. However, the final dry down becomes a little too sparse for my tastes - especially given what comes before. Sillage is appreciable at first before calming down, and overall it lasts about 6 hours on skin.

I'm a fan of fougeres, but I like them more green and astringent. While Sartorial is a very respectable fragrance, eventually it's somewhat limiting for me. It pushes the fougere in directions that don't quite sit right with me. As a result it's hard for me to pick it ahead of many including Brut, Azzaro, Tsar, Jazz, Nobile, Rive Gauche Pour Homme, Invasion Barbare and Fougere Royale. This is simply a personal preference, and the rating is reflective of that.

Therefore, even though I'm neutral, I recommend this to anyone seeking a modern gentlemanly fragrance within the fougere family.

12th February, 2017

Lumière Noire pour Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

When I first tried this on paper at a store - it was a gorgeous rose accord, bright and airy, radiant, and hints of woods. Once I received a sample a few months later, it was quite different: a dull, airy, accord of woods with hints of rose. There is hardly any patchouli, and a prevailing mustiness. The mustiness subsides after a while, with the rose becoming a bit more prominent with some added hint of spices. One spots the vaguest traces of cardamom and cumin. Thereafter it soon subsides into an insubstantial dry down. Additionally it is thin, weak, and overall - nondescript. Anyone curious about this should consider Cartier's Declaration d'Un Soir as a better alternative - or even, perhaps, Domenico Caraceni 1913. Or better still, step out a bit more and consider the absolutely superb Eau de Protection / Rossy de Palma by Etat Libre d'Orange.

06th February, 2017
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Aqua Universalis Forte by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

This is a floral fragrance in a concentrated eau de cologne style that comes across as more musky than woody in the dry down. Any citrus note is hard to spot as right off the start one perceives a wall of white flowers with jasmine being discernible. Initially it's a bit screechy, but is more rounded after about thirty minutes as it settles on the skin. Thereafter the rose becomes a bit more perceptible. The floral accord continues till the musks with hint of sheer woods creep in. Still, even in the far dry down - the floral accord is prominent, with the addition of the musky facet.

Overall this is on par, summery, and respectable. However, it is also quite monotonous, lacking in nuances, dull, and somewhat derivative. On the wrong day, the white floral - musk accord here can come across as jarring. Sillage is good initially and thereafter discreet but persistent, and excellent duration on skin.

06th February, 2017

African Leather by Memo

This comes across more as a warm-spicy vetiver fragrance that is supported by leather. The initial burst is warm and spicy with cardamom, saffron, and cumin. The presence is rich, but also with a hint of softness - and is perhaps a little synthetic. It's also somewhat sweet at this stage with a vague gourmand allusion. After about thirty minutes a leather note emerges which is warm, soft and closer to other modern leather fragrances. However, in about a couple of hours there is a smooth transition to an airy woody accord with a prominent vetiver note coming to the fore. The fragrance thereafter remains linear, with this woody accord comprising the dry down, and only near indiscernible hints of leather and distant spices comprising the supporting cast. Sillage is average in the beginning, then quite soft as it becomes a skin scent after 2-3 hours, and it lasts only about 3-4 hours on skin.

On the whole it is hard to classify this fragrance, as one feels it is not quite a leather fragrance. There is also an 'inverted shape' at play here - the fragrance thins out towards the dry down (though not exactly being a top note con job). Additionally, it does come across as a bit unique in terms of its composition - especially the transitions. However, eventually it is a bit insubstantial, and not memorable enough. In roughly similar territory for a leathery fragrance, Armani's Oud Royal is a more compelling alternative.

06th February, 2017

Invictus by Paco Rabanne

Crude and horrendous, Invictus is easily the worst Paco Rabanne fragrance ever released. It's an utter mess of faux freshness (chemical citrus notes), a generic synthetic woody-ness , and a nauseating syrupy sweetness. If that sounds appealing to someone, they might enjoy this.

In my books this is an abomination. In case one has a bottle, it would perhaps be best reserved for situations when one wishes to break up with one's lover.

Utterly ridiculous.

27th January, 2017

Tiffany for Men Sport by Tiffany

Note: Review is of the current version.

A blatantly synthetic - and cheap smelling fragrance. It takes the Tiffany for Men structure, reduces any substance, and then adds in some fresh/sporty/semi-aquatic notes that render the fragrance shrill and screechy.

Fragrances like the Chanel Allure Homme sport flankers are in similar olfactory territory, and would be an upgrade over this.

24th January, 2017

Tiffany for Men by Tiffany

Note: Review is of the current version

Dry, dusty lemon opening followed by a mossy-woody-patchouli accord with an abstract leatheriness that persists into the dry down. The composition feels somewhat flat, dull, and lacking in depth and richness. It shares olfactory ranges with Versace L'Homme, rather than New York or Bois du Portugal.

More frankly, it smelled like a poor reformulation of an erstwhile respectable fragrance. I'm not sure whether it was the particular store tester I tried. Based on my experience, one is better off with New York, New York Intense, or Bois du Portugal (which are all vastly better in every respect), or the vintage version of L'Homme. Even the version of L'Homme from 2012 that I had would be no worse.

23rd January, 2017

Weekend for Men by Burberry

Cheap synthetic citrus notes with some white florals over a shrill white musk base. There are some fruity elements, but very subdued (thankfully). It is not far removed from what many commercial products smell like, including floor cleaners, dish liquids, and laundry detergents. The base is more musky than woody.

This could have been potentially inspired by CK One and/or Acqua di Gio, but it showcases the worst elements of such fragrances. It is also easily the worst Burberry fragrance.

23rd January, 2017

Dior Homme Eau for Men by Christian Dior

This is Dior Homme for folks who don't get Dior Homme.

Once we get past the imbecilic name, this one opens with some citrusy-ozonic effect on skin, with the iris lurking. A note of coriander is listed, though nothing in it smells like coriander. The iris is the most prominent note, though a lot subdued than in Dior Homme. This is blended together with some remarkably dull faux-aquatic freshness. The base is powdery cedar, and burdened with unpleasant memories of that chemical-fresh accord.

With average projection and tenacity on skin, this release is a filler from start to end in the otherwise respectable Dior Homme line. Dior Homme Sport would be a superior alternative to this if you're looking for a 'fresh' Dior Homme.

22nd January, 2017

Domenico Caraceni 1913 by Domenico Caraceni

Note: Review is of the current version.

DC 1913 comes across as a rose fragrance that vaguely resembles the structure of a modern fougere. The rose is the most prominent note, but it is a part of an accord nuanced with some restrained, dry sweetness and some traces of green notes. In fact, this smells remarkably close to what a rose flanker of Histoires des Parfums 1725 Casanova would smell like. There is a brief orange note in the beginning, but since then there's not much transition: the rose accord persists.

I'm partial to a good rose fragrance, and consider this to be an improvement on the HdP. However, it has rather thin sillage and average longevity. This perfume would have been excellent if it were more robust, and a notch or two higher in quality. One wonders whether the vintage version is precisely that. It is cosy, elegant, and subtle and very comforting to wear, but eventually leaves one unsatisfied - especially in the dry down.

22nd January, 2017

Portraits : The Tragedy of Lord George by Penhaligon's

A disastrous offering. Right off the bat there is the ubiquitous synthetic-woody-amber note. This is followed quickly by a dull phase that persists, with a hint of soap. Eventually there is the boring amber dry-down found in umpteen designer dreck masculine fragrances.

Any class and gentlemanly aura was well lost before the fall from grace, but this release indicates that Penhaligon's is willing to commit highway robbery. A tragedy indeed.

The cap is tacky, and as tasteless as the fragrance.

30th December, 2016

Sauvage by Christian Dior

Sauvage is mostly fresh metallic bergamot, hollow ambroxan, and an assortment of nondescript mild spicy notes. It sounds depressing on paper, and it smells worse on paper.

On skin it's harsh, abrasive, chemical - and smells as if one has spent all day with cleaning solutions.

If there is to be a low point in mass perfumery - this is it. This is utterly, properly garbage. Sure, the Hugo Bosses, the Calvin Kleins and their ilk - they churn out something like this every year. But they don't have the pretensions of this Dior.

If there ever were a perfume without soul - this is it. If there ever were a perfume made by accountants - this is it.

Depressing indeed.

24th November, 2016
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

John Varvatos STAR USA by John Varvatos

Forget the notes.

This is again an utterly mediocre fresh-sporty-metallic-amber masculine fragrance that lacks both in quality and character. It smells cheap and bad.

Thankfully it lasts less than two hours.

Bonus points for the cool bottle.

13th November, 2016

Lalique White by Lalique

This one opens with a beautiful lemon, pepper, violet combination that lasts merely twenty minutes before giving way to a boring cedar/musk accord that's extremely muted (fortunately ?). This fragrance lacks a dry down, and completes a vanishing act in less than three hours.

This could've been so much better with that opening - if the development were more interesting, and the fragrance itself more potent. Instead, it's yet another fragrance that fails to charm.

A weak neutral.

08th November, 2016

This Is Not A Blue Bottle by Histoires de Parfums

This is the 'meh' moment for Histoires des Parfums.

This scent is modern, faux-aquatic, 'blue', and smells like any of the 'fresh-woodsy' masculine designer perfumes. Initially there's a blast of orange, bergamot, some aldehydes. Sure, the quality is a notch better than your average designer. But this feels right at home as 'Chanel Allure Homme Sport Extreme Version Blue'. After an hour or so a clean, semi-dark, sterilised patchouli note creeps in that makes things a little better. At this time it smells like designer fragrances from the mid 2000s. Mugler's Ultra Zest, an average perfume by all means, would be an improvement on this.

Surely it doesn't smell 'bad'. But it smells uninspiring, mediocre, generic, and completely out of place next to all the other Histoires des Parfums fragrances. It may or may not be Histoires des Parfums' worst perfume. But it is surely the dullest. As dull as dishwater.

07th November, 2016 (last edited: 14th November, 2016)

Incense Flash by Tauerville

Incense Flash came across as a straightforward incense fragrance. Light, transparent, somewhat persistent, dry, mostly linear, and slightly woody and faintly musky in the dry down.

It is not complex, dark, challenging, intriguing - or any of that.

In fact, it comes across as somewhat uninspired and bland. I like 'light' incense fragrances (Kyoto, Infusion d'Homme), but there isn't much here to keep me interested.

20th September, 2016

Ocean by Bath and Body Works

This is the common sub-par 'fresh / blue / aquatic' disinfectant mall fragrance that is chemical, nauseating, and utterly unremarkable. Goes on strong and dies down quickly.

Basically the lowest common denominator of the lowest common denominator itself. In other words, a bottle shelf product of the bottle shelf category, but unfortunately sold for as much as Havana or Cool Water.

Get Cool Water instead.

15th July, 2016

Boss Bottled Night by Hugo Boss

This is quite screechy, synthetic and obnoxious. The notes are a mere fantasy - it only smells of synthetic violets, musks, and some faint woody notes.

The good thing is that it is over pretty quickly.

For something in similar ballpark but much better - try Burberry Touch for Men. For something somewhat similar but a lot, lot better - try Gucci Pour Homme II. For something vaguely similar but infinitely better - try Fahrenheit.

Honestly, I cannot think of anything worse at this price point.

15th July, 2016

Le Vetiver Itasca by Lubin

Itasca is a gem of a fragrance. It's not a vetiver fragrance as such. Neither do I find it particularly piney, herbal or astringent.

Consider all the fresh, sporty aftershaves and fragrances for men that flooded the market before things started to become calorie laden. Think of all the Gillette aftershaves and the Cool Water inspired fragrances. Some of them were green, some aquatic, some a little woody. All were fresh.

Now take all the good renditions of that style. And then take all the best elements of those good renditions, create a proper blend, and bottle it as an eau de parfum.

That is Itasca. It is invigorating, fresh, green, foresty and smells wonderful. It is neither juvenile nor mature. Perfect for all seasons, and almost all occasions. It successfully evokes an aftershave vibe due to its associations with fresh modern aftershaves, but is much classier.

Great in slightly warm weather, even better when it's slightly cool.

Good projection and longevity. Excellent stuff.

15th May, 2016

Jaïpur Homme by Boucheron

NOTE: Review of the EdT

Jaïpur Homme is a vanillic oriental creation by Annick Menardo. The first few opening seconds are citric, and one could possibly be forgiven for mistaking it to be Boucheron pour Homme. However, in a matter of a few minutes the citric notes all but subside, much in the style and tradition of many classic Guerlains and a few de Nicolaï's, to reveal a spicy cinnamon accord. The spices become progressively softer as the vanilla note takes centrestage. A vague hint of abstract freshness well into the dry down presents another interesting facet of the composition. The overall olfactory impression is formal and distinguished, with a regal touch. Yet, Jaïpur Homme shuns the majestic, and often intimidating, grandeur of the palaces of Rajasthan. It only pays homage to the royal magnificence with subtle but significant flourishes and nuances that hint at majesty. Rather than indulgent opulence, its discreet sophistication conveys the message that it is possible to accentuate everyday life with a deft touch of regal splendour.

Exhibiting good sillage and admirable tenacity, Jaïpur Homme could be an ideal embellishment to carefully chosen attires for afternoon tea parties and upscale evening socials. The somewhat pedestrian price should not obscure the fact that it possesses an abundance of bourgeois elegance, and effortlessly mixes with the cultured high society.

17th April, 2016

Jacomo de Jacomo Original by Jacomo

Jacomo de Jacomo is dark, dry and austere. But it is not brooding. Instead, it provides comfort and solace in almost a spiritual way. Perhaps it's the use of incense. It's also dusty and nostalgic. It very successfully captures the smell and atmosphere of a late night Durga pandal in Calcutta when everyone has left. Not the big pandals, but the small, quaint ones at home or the little corner in the neighbourhood. It's almost a lost scent from a lost era. Yet, it is approachable and provokes thoughtful reflection.

This might work if you are into cloves, incense, spices and dry fragrances. It is also not powdery as such. Depending on one's tastes, this might come across somewhat old-fashioned.

Acceptable sillage and tenacity.

17th April, 2016

Italian Cypress by Tom Ford

Italian Cypress is a somewhat uncharacteristic Tom Ford Private Blends fragrance. It avoids the brash and clumsy openings of many others from the line, and is more refined. Beginning with a nice lemon note, it soon moves into green and woody territory. There is a lot of pine and cypress, supported by woods and patchouly. Pine soon dominates the cypress as one gets a whiff of a leather accord. This is where the fragrance starts to become remarkably similar to Polo sans the tobacco. The fragrance doesn't show any further evolution.

While it is well done and smells good, Italian Cypress is ultimately too similar to Polo to be taken seriously. It takes many elements from Polo, Z14, Devin, Aramis 900 and Tuscany as influences. However, it is more of a play on the theme rather than being unique or distinctive. The top notes are well done, but the fragrance lacks body and personality from the heart onwards (as is usual with Tom Ford Private Blends releases). Additionally it has mediocre longevity and weak sillage and comes with a shockingly high price tag.

17th April, 2016

Incense Oud by By Kilian

Incense Oud is a quality composition with incense as the main focus. The other most prominent notes are cardamom and rose, with oud somewhere there in the background. It is refined, polished and even a bit sophisticated. Any animalic element has been removed and instead it is quite elegant. Unfortunately it is only elegant, rather than being opulent - which would have been a perfect fit in this case. It stops singing on skin and performs a disappearing act in about four hours.

17th April, 2016

Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

I have finally tried Grey Flannel. It has every element that I love - florals, greens, citrus. Yet I find it unappealing. The composition is dry, dusty and somewhat powdery. There is absolutely no sweetness, and a bitter edge that now and then makes its presence known. While I do not find it harsh, it's too austere.

While I appreciate its historical importance and heritage, in this particular case I would much prefer something a little more updated.

Or maybe I'd fall in love with it in another twenty years.

17th April, 2016

Gold Leather by Atelier Cologne

Gold Leather has a crude and loud opening of fruit and leather. The fruitiness subsides a bit as a subtle rum note becomes discernible. There is a slight relief along with a hint of greenness. The subsequent dry down is mostly a woody leather accord.

Gold Leather comes across as chintzy, derivative and even hideous and vulgar. It's hard to imagine it being an Atelier Cologne creation. While I'm not generally a fan of this style of leathers, Paco Rabanne's $1 Million and Tuscan Leather are superior alternatives for being more well defined and/or distinctive.

Good sillage and longevity on skin.

17th April, 2016

Granville by Christian Dior

A dry, stark and austere fragrance.

Granville is an aromatic green composition centred around pine. It heavily borrows from Blenheim Bouquet. It's more herbal and has a bit more of the spices. The initial citric burst of lemon is deceptive. Briefly the composition turns piney with some herbal elements. Thereafter it is quite relentless in its green character, and quite linear. It is bitter, medicinal, formal and somewhat unisex with moderate sillage and longevity.

Personally I feel it misses a supporting cast. Even though it is deep, it mostly has a single facet, and in this case it is intriguing but not that compelling. Any hint of sweetness or a touch of incense or a mild accent of patchouli would have provided an interesting contrast. Instead its dry, bitter, green apporach is uncompromising. It is also outdoorsy, evocative of vast open greeneries, and cool, cloudy days spent wandering about in the woods, not without a sense of wonder. The palette is mostly shades of green, yet the painting board has some blank, abstract spaces to let imagination complete the story.

A weak thumbs up.

17th April, 2016

Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

Bentley for Men Intense is unashamedly bold, brash and brawny. Its central structure is primarily woody notes densely blended, accentuated by rum, leather and a touch of incense to concoct a boozy and heady vibe. Fairly linear on skin, it has good sillage and longevity. Its USP is that while bearing a relation to other semi-sweet, woody orientals for men, it is deeper, darker and avoids the pitfalls of being too sugary, too sophomoric or too unimaginative. Its limitation is that it is not subtle, a tad inelegant and perhaps even not sophisticated as such. However, it is candid in its street-smart demeanour, and never had any pretension of foppish aristocracy.

This is not meant to be worn to a rendition of Mahler's No 3 by the Vienna Philharmonic. This is meant to be worn with a leather jacket to a live concert of The Strokes on a cold evening.

In the bleak modern history (2010 - ) of fragrances for men, this is one of the very few good releases.

31st March, 2016

Rive Gauche pour Homme Light by Yves Saint Laurent

A superfluous offering. I am a big fan of the original. This one, while not bad, doesn't offer much to redeem itself. As expected, the spices and aromatic aspects of the original are pared down here. It is rendered more 'modern' and 'airy', with a light effervescent character.

This perhaps sounds good, but it is actually rather underwhelming. It lacks any imagination - there is no exploration of any note or any new highlight. It lacks character as well, and comes across simply as a diluted version of the original.

Acceptable sillage, but somewhat fleeting.

05th March, 2016

Acquiilssssima by Hilde Soliani Profumi

This is a salty aquatic fragrance similar to Profumum's Acqua di Sale. Rather than having nuances, it mostly smells like a simple one accord composition. There is a dominant salty seaweed note that is somewhat unappealing and discordant. I do not detect much evolution in terms of the scent. The fragrance does turn a little greener once the initial salty blast subsides. The base has some musky element.

The fragrance is also quite timid in its exploration of its theme. Acqua di Sale is a bolder interpretation of this theme, and is more nuanced and dynamic. In contrast, this one is rather indistinctive, potentially foul-smelling and quite forgettable.

Not sure if this has been discontinued, wouldn't be surprised if that is the case.

09th February, 2016