Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

Total Reviews: 390

Fougère Bengale by Parfum d'Empire

Fougère Bengale is more of a spicy aromatic scent than a bonafide fougere, with a focus on the spicy-herbal elements. At the beginning there is noticeable ginger, with hints of tarragon, cumin, an ethereal touch of mint, and a large dose of hay. There develops a faint sweetness after about thirty minutes, and there's a note of immortelle, but rather restrained. The overall effect is smooth rather than sharp, light rather than rich. I do not get any note of tea, but there is a smokiness in the initial phase which is akin to tea perfumes. The hay-immortelle-spices develop over a few hours into a very soft base of woods, vanilla and tonka, with minimal sweetness. Sillage is restrained and duration is a few hours on skin based on a moderate application.

Fougère Bengale is an interesting work that I personally find to be somewhat underwhelming. It seems to be lacking in personality, and could do with more oomph and dynamism; particularly, the base is rather faint and insubstantial. Anyone after a fougere or a spicy fougere is likely to be disappointed, as it does not really smell like a fougere in the first place, when benchmarked against references (traditional or modern). In fact, I'm reminded of dry, herbal perfumes like Yatagan. Fougère Bengale isn't particularly sweet, especially considering the notes. There is a rugged, rustic appeal to the composition which often shows up in others in the Parfum d'Empire range.

20th April, 2020

Cara by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

Cozy, gourmand-ish amber that is mid-range, mid-pitched and very well-blended. Notes of almond, tonka, vanilla, benzoin and a hint of caramel, with a restrained, abstract sweetness, solid persistence, airy sillage but not overbearing. One could wear this for days in a row and not get bored. Stylistically it reminds of Tonka Imperiale and Spiritueuse Double Vanille (while it's closer in scent profile to the former), but less dense and heavy than either of those, but still adequately robust. A bit classical in tastes.

12th April, 2020

Golden Chypre by Grossmith

This is a light floral-woods perfume with what smells like a natural palette. The name is misleading to me, as I don't smell any oakmoss or anything that approximates the standard mossy chypre drydown. Interestingly, the notes pyramid does not have any moss either, which perhaps indicates that Golden Chypre is sort of a reinterpretation of a chypre rather than the stuff itself. It starts off rather bright, even summery, with a seamless blend of citrus and mild spices, before moving on to a floral mid phase which quickly develops into a very light base of vague woods and musks. It smells very natural, but there is not a lot of development, and as noted by others it is too meek and quiet, and somewhat underwhelming.

Even as a (very loose) interpretation of chypre, Golden Chypre is underwhelming when one can have stuff like Chypre Palatin, Dryad (which is closer to a classical chypre) or several other vintages. I appreciate the how it smells very natural and pleasant, but given its shortcomings and price tag, I see it rather pointless.

11th April, 2020
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Elysium pour Homme Parfum by Roja Dove

Simplistic citrus-woods-musk concoction with very little development. I mostly get an accord of lemon with musk, and it smells dangerously close to something like Versace pour Homme, Versace Man Eau Fraiche or Allure Homme Sport. The quality seems to be on par with those as well. It sits very close to skin, and lasts about a couple of hours. Considering the price and the pomp, this is a certified failure.

30th March, 2020

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

I've had bottles of Eau Sauvage - both the current version and the vintage, and they are both wonderful. I do notice the lack of oakmoss in the current version, but it's not that different. This perfume was never an oakmoss bomb that had to suffer an unfortunate reformulation. In all its versions, I find it an incredibly refined fresh/green fragrance, with hints of lemon, lime, basil, hints of florals and faint whispers of woody-mossy notes all culminating into an accord of breathtaking beauty and immaculate sophistication. It is notoriously weak, especially faint rather than short-lived (it does last a few hours as a skin scent with a liberal application), but this is a perfume where it's all about quality over quantity.

29th March, 2020

Red Tobacco by Mancera

Red Tobacco?

More like a fuzzy, persistent blob of brown sugar.

18th March, 2020

Vetiver Extrême by Guerlain

This is essentially Guerlain's Vetiver, with the tobacco notes removed and a flinty, fresh-mineral light note of incense added. The base is mostly that metallic incense, which isn't among the better incense accords I've tried. The opening and mid-phases are quite nice, when the vetiver and other green notes are still perceptible, with the incense in the background. Sillage was close but consistent on my skin, and duration was reasonable at over five hours; in fact, it is stronger and lasts longer than the original (which is too faint, at least in its current formulation).

Vetiver Extreme is more of an incense than a vetiver; and, there are better vetivers, or incense fragrances out there, not to mention vetiver+incense combos such as Timbuktu or Dzongkha. Vetiver Extreme is perhaps worth a try for anyone looking for a simpler, straightforward vetiver and incense perfume, and doesn't have high expectations.

30th January, 2020

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

Note: Review is of the current version.

Green Irish Tweed has been debated, discussed and reviewed to death, so I'd just state the essentials -

• It's different from Cool Water (current, or vintage), so let's get that out of the way. It is closer to Aspen (Coty) than Cool Water.

• It's definitely changed over the years. It used to be a beautiful fresh-green fragrance with notes of iris and violet, together with grassy, green notes that persisted throughout, over a warm-musky base of ambergris that was sharp, and held everything together in place. That's how it used to be till about 2015. I've had several samples and bottles since 2016, and it has changed for the worse. The notes are still there, but the top-fresh notes collapse quickly to give way to a flat iris note, the violet note seems to have disappeared, and the base is musky ambergris but without the sharpness, and it just feels muddled, as if the original took a good beating in a round of boxing. I thought I had received a sample that had lost the top notes, but I did not have any doubts once I purchased two retail bottles from different places across different years, and found the perfume to be consistently underwhelming in the way described.

• I loved the earlier version, even more so in slightly cooler weather, when the freshness cut throughout and stood out. Now, it's not that good anymore. I would suggest one to refrain from trying to chase down any 'holy grail batch': it's 2020, and one would do well to sample around.

That's all, in a nutshell.

21st January, 2020

Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur by Lalique

Hommage a L'Homme Voyageur is a smart contemporary fragrance, with lots of green notes in the form of patchouli, papyrus, vetiver, with some vague/fleeting bergamot, hints of cardamom, and a cosy, slightly warm dry-down. Patchouli is the star here, together with vetiver. It appears a bit dark, but soon mellows out during the mid-phase; a hint of smoke in the first couple of hours. The base patchouli and vetiver, plus some soft, warm vanilla-amber in the far background. The overall style is dry, woody.

This is an interesting modern take on patchouli, and reminds me a bit of darker vetivers such as Private Label by Jovoy. I find it to be moderately long-lasting but sitting a bit too close to skin, as with most Lalique stuff. It could have been a bit more distinctive, but there's much to appreciate here (especially, considering the competition), and it could work as a work scent. Definitely not for those who can't get along with patchouli, or vetiver.

19th January, 2020

Zdravetz by Bruno Fazzolari

Zdravetz comes across as a very watery-transparent geranium/rose with something that hints at green notes; no discernible leather or suede. Unfortunately it smells dangerously close to scented products (shampoo or dishwashing liquid). One positive aspect is that this doesn't seem to turn sour on my skin. Vanilla is listed but I don't get any, and this isn't sweet. Not much personality here, and not sure why anyone would get this instead of dozens of other fresh florals at one-tenth the price. Perhaps Fazzolari's weakest offering (and I've tried them all except Unsettled and Feu Secret).

02nd January, 2020

Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

An adult gourmand-woody, with the emphasis on the sweet wood notes. There is a definite confectionary aspect due to ethyl maltose, but it is a little abstract and gradually subsides. The woody notes are an amalgamation of sandalwood (not Mysore), guaiac wood, patchouli fused together with vanilla. There is a creamy (but not Mysore sandalwood creamy), milky aspect that's persistent throughout. Opening note of saffron with touches of other indiscernible spices provide an interesting counterpoint to the ethyl maltose, and the woods/vanilla accord that develops later. There is a bit of development in the first one or two hours, and thereafter it is linear, with an accord of sandalwood, guaiac wood and vanilla. This dry-down is warm, cosy and comforting. It is reasonably diffusive on skin with adequate sillage, and excellent duration at over eight hours. I find the dry-down to be a tad unexciting at times, which more of a reflection of my personal taste. It reminds me of Jeux de Peau and Petits Papiers in passing, and the sweet gourmand aspects in Music for a While released later are vaguely similar. Fans of Angel / Angel Men might also find much to love here. A very refined essay on the gourmand-woods genre (with the focus eventually on the woods) that doesn't push boundaries, but the quality and execution are top notch.

30th December, 2019

Pegasus by Parfums de Marly

Lavender-almond-vanilla, in that order. Considerably similar to Le Male, but three times as expensive, and nowhere near as good as Antico Caruso.

28th December, 2019

Delina by Parfums de Marly

A sugary rose, with hints of lychee, on a musky-vanillic base. The note of rhubarb is in the background. Adequate presence on skin, with reasonable tenacity but overall it is disappointing: sophomoric, dull, too earnest, and unintelligent. This is a perfume for dolls, not women. Perhaps a guy could give it a twist.

28th December, 2019
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Prada Amber pour Homme by Prada

Cool-warm and reassuringly suave, Amber pour Homme is a fresh oriental with notes of saffron, myrrh, vanilla, spice and floral notes. Clean, soapy with a touch of powder, Amber drifts in and out of shapes, but always hovers in the space between soapy fougeres à la Sung Homme, and heavier fresh-orientals such as Montblanc's Individuel. It's largely linear, and there's a subtle bitterness that persists throughout to counterbalance the array of fresh-sweet notes. There are some common tones with Narciso for Him, especially the musky facets of Amber, but Narciso is much more musk-focussed, and decidely gloomier.

Prada/Andrier revisited this work later in Amber pour Homme Intense, which is deeper, more tailored, and arguably more refined. Amber pour Homme doesn't reinvent the wheel, but reimagines the classic masculine staples of yesteryears in a contemporary fashion, not without a touch of androgyny.

26th November, 2019

Un Jardin sur le Nil by Hermès

An explosion of summery loveliness; green mangoes, florals, breezy and chic. Quite an abstract composition with a bit of complexity, part synthetic and part as natural as sliced watermelon. The dry-down on my skin veers more towards musk than woods, which is a plus for warm-weather scents. In fact, it blooms quietly in hot weather, with close sillage and admirable persistence for something that seems so brittle. It's similar in vibe to some of the other Les Jardin perfumes, especially Sur Le Toit, but is still utterly unique. A pleasure to wear in summer, and sometimes a burst of joy in the dead of winter.

21st November, 2019

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

A somewhat simple-smelling composition, with a fruity-spicy opening, apples with mild cinnamon, on a woodsy vanilla base. Nice, but lacking any depth, direction or development; close sillage and moderate persistence. I'm reminded of Spice and Wood as being in the same ballpark but much better, though horribly overpriced. I'm attributing this partial letdown to what I imagine would have been the budget of Boss, rather than Annick Menardo.

21st November, 2019

New York Intense by Nicolaï

Absurdly good.

It does have oakmoss, but it's blended in finely with everything else, with incredible balance, and the fragrance is more than the sum of its parts. It's complex, subtle, rich without being heavy, and abstract.

In my books, among the best perfumes released in this decade, and surely the best 'masculine'. It's right up there with Patou pour Homme, vintage Heritage, and all the be-alls and end-alls among perfumes.

Absolute perfection; sublime.

14th November, 2019

Vert des Bois by Tom Ford

This is a wonderful perfume, deep-green, resinous, with touch of florals, and ever so slightly sweet-smoky in the dry-down. Full of retro charm, but decidedly contemporary, unisex but perhaps leaning slightly masculine, and adequately tenacious on skin with a lovely sillage. One of my (newer) favourites to wear on cool autumn days, and one of the best 'green' perfumes around.

21st October, 2019

Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This is a perfume that I had to wear more than ten times spaced out over more than a year, to finally understand its appeal. More than notes or accords, I was never sure how it smells and whether it is diffusive and tenacious enough. Dzongkha has an array of notes that hint at interesting combinations on paper, and finally it is indeed more than the sum of its parts.

Dzongkha starts off with a spiced floral accord, subtly fruit; cardamom is dialed back. The composition smoothly evolves into its mid phases which is iris with a hint of tea (note that cardamom is still there), and then the base is mostly iris and incense with hints of a leathery accord with a touch of cypriol. The star is definitely the iris and incense, conjuring up a colour of a dark greyish pink, haunting and alluring in equal parts. Dzongkha is perhaps what a spiced, darkened, slightly butch version of Iris de Nuit would smell like. I think what really works here is the fact that Dzongkha is not aggressive, in-your-face, but elegant and spaced out.

I have come to realise that Dzongkha is quite versatile, with more adequate sillage and duration. It's beguiling and elusive, and one of the better examples of a contemporary twist on the classic French perfumes. This is a rare case where investing time in a perfume is truly worth it, and the dry-down is exquisite, and absolutely worthy of the memory space.

14th September, 2019

Tom Ford Noir Extreme by Tom Ford

Cheap vanilla .....

TF Noir Extreme has an alluring opening with well-blended spice (mostly cardamom, nutmeg and saffron) and floral notes, sort of contemporary, urbane, and has that 'upscale' feel that TF fragrances aspire to. The vibe is similar to La Nuit de L'Homme, Valentino Uomo / Intense, and other sweet, 'masculine', 'crowd-pleasing' perfumes, and Noir Extreme manages to smell more refined and interesting than most of the competition. However, in a few hours all the interesting spice and floral notes dissipate to leave behind a base of vanilla and amber that's just dull, a bit sharp-scratchy rather than smooth and comes across as rather cheap. I know that the average perfume buyer doesn't perhaps care about the dry-down, but TF Noir Extreme still has the worst dry-down of all Tom Ford fragrances including both the Signature line and the Private Blends. It has adequate sillage, and good duration of several hours, but I wish it just disappeared on skin after the initial and mid phases. Oh well ....

10th September, 2019

Close Up by Olfactive Studio

A cosy semi-gourmand with notes of cherry, cinnamon, tobacco on an amber base. The mid and dry down is remarkably similar to that of Ambre Narguile, but Close Up is less sweet than the Hermes; not as rich either. I was expecting something a bit more unique or distinctive since it's Annick Menardo, but seems that Olfactive Studio wanted a 'crowd-pleaser'. The dry-down is rather quiet and somewhat underwhelming. Nice, but unremarkable and not memorable.

08th September, 2019

Olène by Diptyque

Shampoo and hairspray with a hint of melon in the beginning, followed by jasmine and a soapy-floral dry-down which is much better than the initial phases. Half-way between crudeness and refinement. Not terrible, but you come to expect better from Diptyque.

02nd September, 2019

Pays Dogon by Monsillage

This is a smoky-rooty vetiver with a strong patchouli note, and noticeable cypriol. It is somewhat linear and smells of an accord of vetiver-patchouli-cypriol, uncompromising but also somewhat flat and one-dimensional. Quite green and earthy; reasonable presence and good persistence. The quality is there, but it suffers from a lack of note separation, limited complexity, and the accord is agreeable but not quite engaging or novel. The late dry-down is more refined; a hint of guaiac wood, with a vague creamy aspect. Worth a try for anyone after a smoky-rooty vetiver. A bit more modernised compared to Villoresi Vetiver or Route du Vetiver, and less avant-garde than stuff like Lampblack.

02nd September, 2019

Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès

A brilliant vetiver, contemporary, concise and effective. Vetiver seated right next to tonka that cancel out each others' worst qualities. Green, light brown like early autumn, lightly toasted, nutty and slightly buttery without the fat; well-proportioned, sweetness without excess, and adorned with hints of praline. Diffusive, and reasonably tenacious; sumptuous and thoroughly charming.

29th August, 2019

Coriolan by Guerlain

Metallic and dull; sort of JP Guerlain does "Weekend for Men by Burberry". Sort of a fougere, airy and abstract, dry and quite light, and rather disagreeable. The 'vibe' is sort of similar to Jazz (maybe even Live Jazz), but Jazz is just way better, and that's what I'd recommend. Coriolan has been discontinued, but I would not miss it one bit.

25th August, 2019

Dunhill Icon by Dunhill

A fresh-woody scent for men (rather, unisex) that's been given a nice twist by adding a lot of neroli, and a touch of pepper. The issue is that the budget appears limited. That's why the neroli is rather synthetic (though not screechy by any means), and at times the composition does smell quite close to grape soda and orange popsicles, especially in the initial and mid phases. It could've been more abstract. The base is mostly soft woods, with hints of the earlier neroli. The dry-down is rather faint and light, which could sometimes be a blessing rather than the blaring synthetic woody-amber masculine perfumes that have proliferated in this market segment. At no point of time in its development is it loud or cheap. Perhaps good for people in college or at their first job, if they buy it at a discount.

13th August, 2019

Eau de Gloire by Parfum d'Empire

A nice extended spicy eau de cologne, starting from lavender with subtle touches of citrus but very quickly transitioning to black tea, anise and licorice. Hint of smoke in the mid phase, and has that wonderful tea accord similar to the one in Ambre Russe (at least earlier bottles). The base is light and subtle with hints of tobacco, leather and moss. Dry from start to finish, and occasionally earthy. An old world meets new nuance in a good way, reserved, subtle and lots of character; requires over-application for enjoyment. The eau de parfum concentration could be misleading. A nice alternative to concentrated citrus colognes, especially if one is also looking to avoid anything too sweet.

13th August, 2019

Wild is the Wind by Atelier de Geste

Notes from Atelier de Geste:

• Top tête (20 mins) - rose petals, verveine, savage geranium
• Middle coeur (2 hrs) - pine, jasmine, musk, leather
• Base fond (12 hrs) - white musk, sandalwood

"Wild is the Wind" is one of my favourite songs, particularly the version by David Bowie on his Station to Station album, though I also love Nina Simone's recording. To expect Atelier de Geste's fragrance to match the mood and whims of the song would be to look for a wild, unusual, perhaps nocturnal or even animalic perfume. Incidentally, the perfume is none of that.

The perfume here is a leathery floral, with lashings of musk and woody notes that extend the dry down. The initial phase is bright, with the rose finely blended with geranium to act as a pale veil, rather than a sharp colour. There is a brief but intense burst of green initially, supposedly from the verbena, but making me think of galbanum several times. Thankfully the verbena never turns sweet over time, unlike in several other perfumes, and the perfume remains crisp.

The mid-phase is where the leather is more prominent. The pine is there, but handled like the rose: soft, finely woven within the accord, and in the background. In the dry down the musk is fresh and a little sensuous, while the composition is still verdant. Sillage and duration are both appreciable based on a moderate application.

Overall, this is a legible and very much wearable perfume, nicely positioned between the green-florals like Bel Respiro, Cristalle and the rose-patchoulis such as Eau de Protection, though being much closer to the former group. Nothing, sharp or dull or animalic, nothing extravagant or seductive; instead, a cool, wistful perfume, engaging on rainy days during the transition from spring to summer, or summer to autumn.

20th June, 2019

Eau de Rochas Homme by Rochas

Eau de Rochas Homme is a straightforward citrus scent with lemon, lime and other notes, but unfortunately has too much lemon verbena for me which gives off a coconut oil aroma and turns too sweet on my skin too soon. I prefer my citrus scents to be more crisp, aromatic or even musky, leathery or woody. Sillage and duration are both adequate for this style of fragrance based on a liberal application. It's also a bit too synthetic/chemical for its own good.

12th June, 2019

L'Envol by Cartier

L'Envol is a rather unbalanced and harsh mish-mash of notes that look interesting on paper, but smell jarring and unappealing. Honey, iris and musk aren't at all a bad combo, and can be excellent if done the right way - the leading example being Dior's Bois d'Argent. L'Envol also has a woody note which is supposedly guaiac wood, but it smells closer to modern woody-ambers than subtle/refined applications (Tokyo by Kenzo, Micallef, or even Rive Gauche pour Homme). It's more soft and less jarring after a few hours, but is also somewhat bland and unremarkable.

It still has its fans and admirers, and it least it isn't one of the umpteenth fresh woody-ambers like Sauvage or Dylan Blue.

12th June, 2019