Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

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Total Reviews: 171

Driftwood by Mirus

Mirus is a San Francisco based artisanal perfumery. Driftwood is classified as a woody oriental: "Driftwood evokes the smell of a dry piece of driftwood on a warm, sandy beach kissed by a cool sea breeze. "

Driftwood on my skin has two phases. The first phase is salty, vaguely ozonic, and is evocative of driftwood but more with marine olfactory stereotypes than those of a beach. There are passing similarities to Acqua di Sale, Aquilissima (Hilde Soliani), and even a bit of Sel Marin. However, Driftwood firmly stays in its own realm with the focus being on the woody aspects of the accord. One finds this accord to be quite novel and distinctive. This phase lingers on for a couple of hours before there is a slow transformation to its second phase: the salty, ozonic aspects disappear as a very restrained sweetness creeps in to complement the wood note. At this stage one discovers an uncanny similarity with several aspects of the dry down of Sycomore EdT. Sadly, around the time of this transformation, the fragrance also seems to unravel quite a bit.

Driftwood has its quirks, and is a novel composition, but eventually reveals a few shortcomings. While the first phase of the composition is quite innovative and interesting, it is not assertive or persistent enough. The second phase is not as engaging after the first. However, Driftwood unfortunately comes across as not robust enough for an extrait, and wears more like somewhere between an EdT and an EdP. A more potent concentration with a greater emphasis on its first phase of development would have been much more compelling.

3/5
24th June, 2017

Philtre Ceylan by Atelier Cologne

Philtre Ceylan is a part of Atelier Cologne's Collection Orient which also includes Mimosa Indigo, Poivre Electrique, Tobacco Nuit and Encens Jinhae. Philtre Ceylan comes across as one of the most authentic renditions of black tea one has encountered in a while. It begins with an ethereal cardamom laced citrus that immediately transforms into an accord of black ceylon tea. This is different from other black teas including Darjeeling, Assam and other flavoured black teas such as Earl Grey. The aroma is robust, slightly smoky, slightly sweet, dewy, and closer to that of brewed tea than dried tea leaves. The cardamom and a hint of cumin support this tea accord; however, spices are kept to an absolute minimum so that the tea is the focus, and the composition never veers into masala tea territory. This phase is long lasting and linear, till eventually the tea and spice notes diminish a bit as an enveloping, semi-sweet guaiac wood joins the other elements to add a nuance, and to form the final dry down of tea and woods.

Philtre Ceylan possesses good longevity on skin of about eight hours, and is discernible throughout before fading away towards the end. However, the sillage is also soft to moderate, though perceptible, and forms a soft cloud around the wearer. Philtre Ceylan is easily the standout among Atelier Cologne's Collection Orient, and a general highlight in its catalogue. While it is somewhat pricy for what it is, it also fills a gap given the relative dearth of quality fragrances focussing on black tea. Anyone missing Coeur de Vetiver Sacre's brilliant interpretation of tea will be advised to consider Philtre Ceylan. However, personally one finds Coeur de Vetiver Sacre to be best reserved for summers, while Philtre Ceylan is an attractive proposition for an autumnal scent.

3.5/5
23rd June, 2017

Le Vetyver by Lubin

A sublime vetiver .....

A wonderful fresh, spicy vetiver. The touch of cloves brings warmth to the composition and provides an interesting contrast to its cooler aspects. It's similar to the Guerlain, but is spicier, drier and more masculine. There is a little less emphasis on smokiness. Instead it rich, green and deep. Once the aromatic aspects subside, the dry down is very lush and comforting. Good sillage for a vetiver fragrance and admirable tenacity on skin.

While it doesn't present much compositional novelty, it is also one of the rare cases of flawless execution of a classic style. Easily one of the best vetivers out on the market within the traditional masculine realm. Excellent stuff. Criminally underrated.

4/5
02nd June, 2017
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masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Dull, pedestrian and flat.

Masculin Pluriel reveals itself as a sweet lavender composition supported by vetiver and woody notes. It is very generic after the first thirty minutes or so.

This is not it if you are looking for a fougere. There are many great fougeres still around, starting with Azzaro pour Homme. You want to pay MFK prices? Go for Invasion Barbare.

This is not the barbershop fragrance that one yearns for. It lacks the brilliant, crisp radiance of Rive Gauche pour Homme or the warm comforting aura of Antico Caruso.

This is not the woody lavender fragrance to search for. That niche is accounted for by Bois du Portugal, Heritage and New York.

This is not by any means the first pairing of lavender with sweet notes. There's a long list starting with Caron Pour Un Homme, Le Male, Casanova 1725, Caron Third Man, Gris Clair and Fourrea Noir for such expressions of lavender.

It borrows quite a bit from Gris Clair, but is nowhere near as distinctive or engaging as Gris Clair. It doesn't have the burnt sugar sprinkled with incense aspect, which makes Gris Clair so addictive. Nor does it go anywhere else with its exploration of lavender.

By now you perhaps have an idea of how it is.

Such a shame it shares shelf space with a masterpiece like Absolue Pour Le Soir.

Did I mention thin sillage and below par duration?

1.5/5
02nd June, 2017

Monocle Scent One: Hinoki by Comme des Garçons

A very frustrating experience.

Hinoki has some dusty green top notes where one can barely pick out the pine and the cypress. The green elements are supported by cedar-like woods. The fragrance smells simplistic, linear and is hardly engaging. Very soon the green elements subside to leave behind a humdrum woody skin scent. Overall it's very lacklustre - a vanishing mid phase, an absent base, very short duration and zero sillage.

Disappointing to say the least.

1.5/5
02nd June, 2017

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

Jaisalmer has an Indian masala chai accord over the incense skeleton of the Incense series. This accord has notes of cardamom, cinnamon and pepper, besides other spices. This structure is present throughout its life on skin, with little to no transformation. Only in the dry down the spices soften and the fragrance becomes a little ambery.

Personally I'm ambivalent about this composition. I'm not a fan of barebone incense; but while it's more substantial than something ethereal like Kyoto, I cannot claim to be a fan of this particular interpretation of incense. In its favour is the fact that this is indeed quite a unique take on incense. Nothing great, but definitely worth checking out - particularly if one is a fan of incense.

Average projection and tenacity of 4-5 hours on skin from 4 sprays.

3/5
02nd June, 2017

Allure Homme Edition Blanche Eau de Toilette by Chanel

The good news is that it smells quite good, especially after the initial 5 minutes or so.

It opens with a lemon-pink pepper pairing that is neither invigorating nor zesty but is rather restrained. On bad days this can be mistaken for a furniture varnish. The opening leads to a very linear creamy (vanilla) lemon fragrance with hint of some woods. It's not cheaply made, the 'Chanel quality' is discernible.

However, it is also rather boring. There is no development, no dynamism, and the prolonged accord that sits on the skin is not that compelling either.

Additionally it is extremely shy, and tenacity on skin is quite insubstantial.

2.5/5
02nd June, 2017

Fat Electrician by Etat Libre d'Orange

A sweet vetiver.

The emphasis is more on the supporting sweet notes, than the vetiver itself. The myrrh makes the fragrance a little creamy, and there is a little bit of vanilla. The sweetness is comforting rather than cloying.

Overall this is quite a subtle fragrance. It has very low sillage and not the greatest longevity. It does not particularly explore vetiver or the sweet notes, nor is there any compelling accord. It comes across as insubstantial because of its scent profile and lack of tenacity.

Poor to okayish, and quite easily forgotten.

2/5
02nd June, 2017

L'Homme Idéal Cologne by Guerlain

L'Homme Ideal Cologne is a crude, cheap and plasticky 'sports' style cologne involving grapefruit, orange, pink pepper, followed by a sweet-sour mish-mash of almond and musk notes. The problem is that it is executed at the level of a copycat of an Armani masculine flanker. The almond note is at odds with the rest of the composition, and there is a vulgar sweetness after the first half hour that's unsettling. Sillage and duration are inconsequential.

Along similar lines, Boss Elements would be a more refined upgrade on this if that one were still around.

1/5
28th May, 2017

Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain

I have never liked summers. Who wants to suffer soul-crushing heat and deathly brightness? In my defence - I have endured such torments in Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay and Phoenix. Let me be blunt and honest: I detest summers. Give me the lovely Chicago winter - any day.

There is a new wave of perfume wearers who demand that summers be defined by fresh perfumes that last through the day. There is a new wave of fresh perfumes on the market to quench the thirst. Most are neither fresh nor long lasting. Some are as bad as the Phoenix (insert city of choice) summers. Some go on well, before getting increasingly grating by the hour. A rare few are interesting - and, beautiful.

Then, what about the eau de colognes?

EdC Imperiale is one such eau de cologne. It is a simple love affair of limes, lemons, verbena, oranges and faint sweet woods - in that order. There is nothing to understand here, and it is meant to be loved. It is delightful and exquisitely refreshing, but as approachable as a traditional lemonade in the summer heat. Rather than a daily indulgence, one embraces it as an hourly ritual. The faint dry down lasts the best part of two hours, before one starts longing for it again.

Imperiale will clearly not move anyone pining for duration. But, does that matter? It smells natural, fresh, and is one of those little joys in the world of perfumes. Sometimes, short is sweet. Sometimes one is moved more by a wonderful short story than a gargantuan novel.

Imperiale, together with Cologne Sologne, is one of the best eau de colognes on the market.

4.5/5

(Notes:

1. Yes, I understand that Eau de Guerlain is just as good and lasts longer, but Imperiale is also very commonly found at half the price of Eau de Guerlain if one shops around a bit.

2. Recommendation - keep it the fridge in summers and enjoy!)
24th May, 2017

Le Petit Grain by Miller Harris

A dry citrus-woody fragrance centred around the orange tree. I smell a crisp and natural scent of orange and petitgrain, with a touch of herbs, that evolves quickly to a dry, sheer accord of woods laced with a bit of moss. Very natural, high quality, and refreshing - however, definitely does not wear like an eau de parfum but more like a traditional EdC. Sillage is almost non-existent, and duration is around 3 hours on skin from a liberal application.

Alternatives would be other EdCs that are similar (Eau d'Orange Vert, Concentre d'Orange Vert) or different (EdCs from Guerlain, Hermes) or perhaps Terre d'Hermes which can be imagined to be an EdT reconstruction of the basic theme presented here.

2.5/5

(rating 3.5/5 if one ignores the price/concentration issues)
22nd May, 2017

Tabacco Toscano by Santa Maria Novella

Tabacco Toscano comes off as a soft interpretation of tobacco rather than a full scale exploration as one had hoped it would be. Tobacco is laced with an accord of amber-vanilla. To me - this is a not so interesting tobacco twist on a straightforward amber fragrance. Leather would have perhaps given it a nice spin, but I hardly get any. The amber accord does add a nice rich brightness to the tobacco, but still it is not interesting or compelling. Good quality materials are employed, but it could have been more distinctive - like Acqua di Cuba as an example.

2.5/5
18th May, 2017

PS by Paul Sebastian

Note: Review is based on a bottle tried in 2014.

As a lover of perfumes from earlier decades, PS was a huge disappointment. The composition is a standard run of the mill 'masculine' with spices, musk, patchouli, and other wood notes. It is densely blended to achieve that particular effect where discerning individual notes is hard, and it comes off as a single blend/accord. Something like this should have been respectable, at least. However, the quality is severely compromised by inferior ingredients: the result is cheapness amplified. It is somewhat nasty and abrasive (in an olfactory sense, rather than chemical), and I wouldn't begrudge anyone who would proceed to hastily wash this one off after application.

In fact, that's precisely what I did.

2/5
17th May, 2017
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Rose 31 by Le Labo

Rose 31 is a 'rose' fragrance that is beautiful and frustrating. Rose is not the main actor: it's in the supporting cast. This will be unsurprising to anyone familiar with the Le Labo range: Le Labo, for some strange reason, names its perfumes in a manner at odds with the compositions. Most of the names are misnomers, and Rose 31 is no exception.

Back to Rose 31: it is primarily a dry, woody fragrance. There is a mild spicy aspect to the composition, attributable to the cumin; this lends an imagination to the perfume. The other aspect is, of course, the rose. The rose is a sleek, polished, and urbane affair. The dry, peppery woods are a blend of cedar and iso e super notes. This rose-cumin-woods structure is reasonably well done and even attractive. Yet, it is hard not to look beyond the shortcomings.

The central gripe about Rose 31 is that it is rather thin from the mid phase onwards, somewhat unsatisfying, and too bare bones. Additionally, it is rather muted on skin and duration is about five to six hours based on a generous application. At this market segment one would expect something of a higher quality. Nonetheless, it is an improvement on something like Lumiere Noire pour Homme, with which it shares a similar rose note. Rose 31, though, is in much closer territory to Declaration d'Un Soir - and the latter is at least as compelling as Rose 31, and at a sixth of its price.

A more concentrated version with less synthetic wood notes in the dry down would be a great improvement. In its current state, Rose 31 yet another niche fragrance from yet another niche brand where everything talks louder and prouder than the product itself: the perfume.

3/5
15th May, 2017

1270 by Frapin

1270 is a 'grown up' gourmand fragrance with a large array of notes. There is a brief orange note that leads to candied and lightly spiced prunes and grapes steeped in wine and rum. All of this is wrapped in a honeyed vanillic ambience with a hint of florals. The vanilla has an ambery hint, however the honey note is more prominent and together with dried fruits and warm spirits round off the composition.

While the basic structure is well conceived, 1270 falls short in execution as it comes across as not being enough well-engineered. Beyond the first couple of hours the individual notes become too dense and form a warm, fruity, honeyed ambery accord that is less exciting than what went on before, and this accord persists into the dry down. Additionally it is rather weak with low sillage and inadequate duration on skin.

Anyone looking for a 'grown up' warm gourmand fragrance would be suggested to try Arabie and Dior's Eau Noire (though the latter is rather rare these days).

3/5
11th May, 2017

Patchouli by Réminiscence

This is a straightforward patchouli with very good balance between raw, green, earthy, woody, and smoky elements. In fact it is quite a bit polished in the sense that it doesn't come across as unfinished, however it's still reasonably gritty. Also, among straightforward patchoulis it is one of the best, and is a viable alternative to a good patchouli essential oil. There is a slight camphoraceous aspect during the first phase, however thereafter it becomes more settled on skin. It stays on linear, but reveals interesting facets of the material every now and then. Sillage is average but persistent, and duration is good at over six hours.

Reminiscence Patchouli is mandatory sampling for anyone, and a very attractive proposition for anyone looking to add a patchouli workhorse to their arsenal. Additionally, it is more affordable compared to many other patchouli fragrances on the market. The (somewhat) low rating, more than anything else, is reflective of personal taste when it comes to linear straightforward patchoulis.

3.5/5
08th May, 2017

Antihéros by Etat Libre d'Orange

Here are three lavender scents for you:

Oxford & Cambridge - spring morning with friends.

Ungaro II pour Homme - spring morning with lover.

Antihéros - spring morning with uptight auntie.


Antihéros is a lavender-musk affair that sits halfway between Caron Pour Un Homme and Gris Clair, and has none of the interesting nuances of either. The sharp edges of lavender are rounded off to add a comforting sweetness - with a fresh, clean musk note and hints of creamy wood. This might sound attractive, even when it's a more or less linear affair from start to finish. However, it is also extremely muted and unreasonably dull.


2.5/5
08th May, 2017

Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens

A light, sheer musk fragrance with a hint of rose. A 100% clean musk if there ever was one. The good news is that it somehow manages to avoid laundromat / laundry musk associations. The bad news is that it is somewhat dull. It sits in the same group as Kiehl's, Nicolai, and Villoresi - but is the meekest personality. There is little development from start to finish, as the musk prevails gently. It is somewhat subtle, but quite long lasting at over six hours.

Clair de Musc is pretty, but somewhat middle of the road, and definitely not 'worth it' at Lutens retail prices. While it is well done, I find the other three (Kiehl's, Nicolai, Villoresi) more interesting, with Kiehl's perhaps being the most appealing. Even within its style and genre, it is a little too bare-bones. Clair de Musc is also quite unnecessary within the Lutens range, and redundant considering the alternatives on the market.

3/5
06th May, 2017

Infusion de Vétiver by Prada

Infusion de Vetiver is not that different from Infusion d'Homme. It's a fresh, crisp vetiver fragrance that will be enjoyed the most by those who like Infusion d'Homme and do not like vetiver. It starts off with a bright presence accentuated by light spices. Bright, airy, there is a subtle vetiver note that creeps in over an anatomy of Infusion d'Homme. It is rather linear thereafter, and dries down to a base of soft musk and woods, like Infusion d'Homme. Sillage is subtle but present, and duration is about 5-6 hours which is good given its style.

Infusion d'Homme is a personal favourite, and therefore I would rather wear that one than Vetiver. Infusion de Vetiver's best aspect is the incorporation of a mild but zesty ginger note in the beginning that makes it quite refreshing. Still, I do not have the need for Infusion de Vetiver, as I would prefer to wear other vetiver fragrances. It is much less soapy than Infusion d'Homme, and more dry. This might be appreciated by fans of light vetivers such as Grey Vetiver.

3/5
05th May, 2017

Dior Homme Parfum by Christian Dior

Dior Homme Parfum unfortunately doesn't improve upon Dior Homme Intense. The reason is simple: it's very hard to improve upon near perfection.

Dior Homme Parfum maintains the stylistic DNA of Dior Homme Intense, but tones down the ingenious iris-cocoa lipstick/make up bag accord and instead renders the composition 'darker' with an oily leather, a deep rose, and dark wood notes. The result is something that smells nice, even somewhat interesting - but character is sacrificed. The overall composition moves away from Dior Homme, and more towards a gazillion 'dark woody' masculines on the market. It will be appreciated more by those put off by the 'lipstick accord' and beautiful androgyny of Dior Homme Intense.

However, it is rather contrived. It is also light years away from the head turner that Dior Homme Intense is.

3/5
05th May, 2017

1899 Ernest Hemingway by Histoires de Parfums

A light oriental fragrance with hints of freshness.

Cinnamon and vanilla are the dominant notes, and balanced out by florals (mainly orange blossom). It is initially promising with a nice accord driven by orange blossom, cinnamon, and a touch of pepper with some restrained sweetness, but it progressively becomes flatter as the sweetness increases. The transformation eventually reveals a vanilla fragrance that is respectable, but also dull and pedestrian.

Anyone familiar with Spicebomb will at once realise that this is a sophisticated and more elegant version of the synthetic mess produced by Viktor & Rolf. However, it still falls short of the mark.

Good projection initially before calming down, and average duration of about seven hours on skin.

2.5/5
05th May, 2017

Vetiver by Guerlain

Review of the ribbed bottle circa early 2000s:

A beautiful fresh vetiver fragrance with depth that maintains a great balance between soapy and dry aspects. There is a brief initial flourish of citrus, before paving way for the vetiver in the heart. The grassy aspects of vetiver are highlighted, yet there is a distinct woody tone that balances out the freshness. The mid phase also brings to fore a very subtle and discreet tobacco note - green, dry, aromatic, slightly smoky and only slightly bitter. This is paired harmoniously with a touch of tonka. Sillage is discreet but discernible, and duration is good for its genre at around six to seven hours.

The development is beautiful, and the composition is reasonably complex. Opulence is shunned in favour of a timeless elegance. It is absolutely delightful and delicious, and one can easily understand why it has been the reference vetiver over three decades. The greatest aspect is the stunning balance. All of this happens not as accident, but as a result of a master perfumer seriously dedicated to his craft.

4.5/5


Review of the 'tall' bottle circa early 2010s:

The biggest difference is that in this version Vetiver is brighter, airier, slightly less woody, and slightly lacking in depth. It still retains much of its charm, though not sure if that wonderful smoky tobacco note is still hanging out there. Slightly more approachable, and slightly less interesting.

Anyone missing the earlier version of Guerlain would be advised to consider Lubin's Vetiver, though the Lubin utilises a clove note that's absent in the Guerlain.

3.5/5

05th May, 2017

Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens

Vetiver Oriental is a dry, dusty vetiver fragrance that highlights the rooty aspects of vetiver and is infused with a powdery cocoa note. There is a green, sappy, resinous aspect with a hint of iris that accentuates this rooty vetiver. During the initial phase the fragrance is more dense and green, but later on it evolves into something more dusty, with a presence of cocoa, and hints of amber. It’s almost as if a plant changes its colour from green to golden brown in autumn. The dusty, powdery dry down is retained till the fragrance fades away. Sillage is quiet but persistent, and I experience a moderate duration of about 5-6 hours.

Among vetiver fragrances this is definitely a unique composition. There is some similarity with Borneo 1834 - particularly in the way the cocoa note is utilised. However, personally it falls well short of being a favourite since I do not find the composition as attractive. I appreciate much more Borneo 1834, and the cocoa-vetiver accord here doesn’t work for me as such. The other relatable fragrance is Vetiver Tonka - but only because both are vetiver fragrances that flirt with gourmand aspects. However, personally it is nowhere near as enjoyable as Vetiver Tonka. If you enjoy the vetiver note in Route du Vetiver, Vetiver Oriental might be interesting - though it is a much less bold in its exploration of vetiver.

In summary, Vetiver Oriental is an interesting composition that’s far from the worst in the Lutens lineup, and fills up a very niche corner in the pantheon of vetiver fragrances. Definitely worth sampling, though whether one would want to stay in that niche is a question of preference. I am happy to observe from a distance.

3/5
04th May, 2017

Blend 30 by Dunhill

Tobacco, leather, oakmoss.

Blend 30 is driven by a tobacco-moss accord that has a leathery aspect. There are aromatics, but they are blended densely to contribute to this tobacco note. There are florals, but only to lend balance - rather than dandification. The fragrance is dry, and has a bitter green aspect from the oakmoss. There is a hint of soft, smoky woods in the later phases.

Blend 30 stands out for its quality, excellent composition, and how the tobacco accord is carefully integrated with the oakmoss to create a gritty but grounded accord with a wonderful retro feel. The other aspect is that any citrus, floral, or herbal direction is almost missing, as it stays close to its structure and avoids any distraction. This, in a sense, is quite focussed.

Most importantly, Blend 30 is an absolute pleasure to wear and stands out even among a fine selection of vintage fragrances for its unique character. Projection is moderate but persistent, and duration is good at around six to seven hours based on 4-5 sprays. Very old world and gentlemanly - I can imagine this being an ideal fragrance after a late night shave followed by a drink of Scotch.

This is clearly as good as anything Dunhill has ever put out, and its discontinuation is a source of lament.

4.5/5
04th May, 2017

Royal Mayfair by Creed

Voleur de Roses.

But the wrong perpetrator, and the wrong roses.

This could have been so good. Unfortunately it is devastatingly bad. If one would go by the notes and the pretensions, this should have been a fresh, green delight in the creme de la creme category. Instead, it is a disaster.

There is a brief initial hopeful burst of citrus followed by musty roses and a slimy musk effect from the eucalyptus. There’s no appreciable gin, lime, orange, or pine - as the rose and eucalyptus accord grate on. This could have still been enjoyable if it were dry and crisp - but it is moist and soggy.

I imagine this could be the smell of roses - but stolen, just after a shower, from a graveyard lined with eucalyptus trees. In short, this comes across as the outcome of a decent idea and a terrible execution.

I had hoped this would be some sort of a counterpoint to Granville. I went in with the expectation of viewing North by Northwest, but came out after having suffered Octopussy.

Sillage is low, and duration is average at around 6-7 hours based on a generous application.

2/5
04th May, 2017

Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

Note: Review is of the current formulation.

Armani Eau pour Homme is a citrus aromatic fragrance. The citrus in the top notes is quite well done with prominent lemon and basil, and a mild spiciness. The similarities with Eau Sauvage are quite evident, though Armani pH is different enough to come across with its own personality, and not a mere copy. This enjoyable phase is followed by mild spices, but then suddenly the composition thins out to a nondescript woody base in about two hours. Sillage is good initially before quickly quietening down, and duration is low at around four hours.

Eventually Armani pour Homme is rather lacking. Eau Sauvage (lemon and basil), Blenheim Bouquet (lemon and spices), Chanel pour Monsieur (citrus), Bogart signature (citrus and leather), and Versace L'Homme (citrus and leathery woods) are much more compelling alternatives.

Given it's an Armani, it is surprising that the quality of materials is highly questionable - when contrasted with other compositions from their range. This further lends support to the possibility that this particular fragrance has suffered badly from reformulation.


2/5
04th May, 2017

Hermèssence Poivre Samarcande by Hermès

Even after accounting for the fact that Ellena’s style is marked by a characteristic transparent minimalism, Poivre Samarcande is underwhelming and shockingly pretentious.

A dry, transparent melange of spices (cumin) and woods is spiked with pepper - and that basically is the composition. The woods in question is a large amount of Iso E Super, and the pepper and the cumin together combine to create an airy fragrant cloud. This is neither compelling, nor interesting, doesn’t smell good, and is soulless and synthetic. It is quite abstract, but also absolutely insubstantial, and functionally comes across as a marginally improved version of Bang by Marc Jacobs at ten times the price. It is extremely quiet on the skin beyond the initial peppery-spicy blast, and duration is not convincing - and irrelevant. Possibly the only redeeming feature could be how the spices (primarily cumin) briefly provide a warm contrast to the cold and aloof woody notes.

Poivre Samarcande slots in between Declaration and Terre d’Hermes chronologically. If one is looking for a minimalist composition featuring pepper, woods, or both, Comme des Garcons presents many superior alternatives. In fact, if one wants an actual three dimensional perfume version of Poivre Samarcande with real depth and substance, one only needs to look at Declaration or Declaration Essence - created by none other than Ellena himself. If one is just interested in a good pepper fragrance, Piper Nigrum or Noir Epices provide much more engaging and rewarding alternatives. While the skeletal structure of Poivre Samarcande bears promise, it is not innovative given its predecessor in Declaration. However, the primary source of discontent is the lack of any substance.

I have always found reasons to respect Ellena’s compositions even though I may disagree with them. This is an exceptional case.

1.5/5
04th May, 2017

Moschino Friends Men by Moschino

Generic fresh, fruity fragrance with some citrus notes of orange and an implied melon effect. Dries down to a synthetic woods base. It isn't sweet in particular, and has a hint of a sourness which is mercifully very restrained. It is very generic overall, and similar to many including Burberry Weekend for Men and CK One. However, it's an upgrade on the Burberry which comes across as harsher and screechier, but is less fun than the CK as it lacks One's androgynous appeal.

The mid phase does have a very vague metallic aspect.

Quite forgettable, but perhaps not the worst of its kind. Contrary to its target audience, I imagine this would work better on young girls.

2.5/5
24th April, 2017

Whisky Black by Evaflor

One of the first perfumes I ever purchased - almost a decade back. At that point of time, I had tried Armani Code and liked it a lot. However, being a student - I couldn't afford it. Whisky Black smelled good enough to my then-untrained nose, and for some reason it was to be a substitute for Code.

This started off with some generic fresh citrus notes including orange, before a rather faint and generic woody-patchouli kicked in after 30 minutes or so. The cash would always run out by the end of two hours.

The price was modest enough that I'd overlook all such shortcomings - then and today.

2.5/5
23rd April, 2017

Bleu de Chanel by Chanel

A random array of synthetic smelling 'fresh notes' desired to create an aftershave effect, but in reality ends up smelling like zombie juice. There is an initial burst of nondescript freshness before a luminous and chemical patchouli-incense takes over that's nearly nauseous. In fact, this is one of the very few perfumes I had to scrub off.

Sillage and duration are fair, but that rather adds to the misery. I imagine a more natural version of this (perhaps a little more diluted and airy to yield a crisp EdC effect) could be worthwhile. Just an astonishing abomination in its current self.

The bottle is cool.

1/5
23rd April, 2017