Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

Total Reviews: 357

Musc Tonkin by Parfum d'Empire

Note: Review is of the EdP, not the extrait version.

Musc Tonkin is an astonishingly tame musk perfume, insubstantial and forgettable. There is noticeable leather and a hint of florals, so much so that this could also pass off as a meek leather fragrance. On card as well as on skin there is no hint of anything animalic at all, and on skin it projects barely an inch, even after a generous application (approximately 1 ml). It's a tad musty, and brings to mind musky leathers of yesteryears (particularly Chanel's Cuir de Russie) but at one tenth volume and concentration.

Musc Tonkin pales in comparison to a well rounded musk fragrance like Muscs Koublaï Khan (which itself is not particularly animalic either ...), while there are several excellent musky leathers so that one need not bother with Musc Tonkin, which is possibly the weakest output from Parfum d'Empire that one has encountered.

21st May, 2018

Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens

Simple but fantastic. Encens et Lavande is pretty much a two note scent: high quality lavender paired to a gorgeous, airy incense note. The lavender is bright, radiant and leads to a dry down of fuzzy incense, ethereal but still substantial. This is the most satisfying incense accord in the Lutens lineup. It is slimmer than Gris Clair, but just as tenacious. Sillage is quite good for its style, as I do keep getting lovely gentle wafts throughout.

Encens et Lavande (together with Gris Clair and Oxford & Cambridge) is one of the best lavender scents I've come across. Fans of Oxford & Cambridge would perhaps appreciate this for the starkness of the composition. The lavender note, though, is richer and similar to the one in Gris Clair. Encens et Lavande might also appeal to lavender fans who find Gris Clair to be too ashy.

Very different from most other things in the Serge Lutens lineup. It is calm, meditative and introspective. This is not complex, unlike Gris Clair, Eau Noire or Dzongkha, and is unlikely to satisfy anyone after a complex lavender or incense scent.

Encens et Lavande is a case study in simple beauty and elegance. The lavender is very good, but once it hits the hour mark and the incense joins in, the scent is sublime.


Note: Review is based on an older "Shiseido" bell jar version.
21st May, 2018

Fathom V by Beaufort London

On this nondescript Sunday I browsed my stash of samples to find this, sent my way by a kind BN friend. I knew about Beaufort being a London based brand, but this was my first experience. Fathom V (strange name) starts off with dewy-grassy greens and florals on my skin, fresh and uplifting. Lily is the star flower, together with the greens, but then, after about a couple of hours, the greens calm down a little to reveal some musky-aquatic notes, lightly salted. This shapes the development and leads to the concluding dry down accord of Fathom V, as it becomes soft, fuzzy but perceptible. It exhibits an understated but persistent sillage - almost forming a hazy fragrant cloud about my skin which is quietly enjoyable.

I was initially prepared to write off Fathom V (again, strange name) as a decent but unremarkable green floral scent, but the dry down has moved me. It is more of a floral-green-aquatic rather than floral-aquatic, and the aquatic notes are very well done, not like calone at all but more salty, fresh and ethereal. I love how they are intertwined and together create a lush and sensuous dry down. It is less bright than Lys Mediterranee, and the lily is less striking next to Lys Fume and Une Lys. However, I feel this adds to the composition rather than being a detraction, as the balance is beautiful in the end.

20th May, 2018
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Maxim's pour Homme by Maxims

A scent from yesteryear, with an aromatic-fruity opening leading to warm woods, leather, embellished with carnation and jasmine. It is well executed, but there is a surprising and somewhat bizarre honeyed sweetness that develops from the mid phase. I find this note to be rather jarring, and at odds with the rest of the composition. I do not enjoy it, and unfortunately, as it persists till the dry down, I end up not liking the scent.

Sillage and longevity are appreciable based on a moderate application. It isn't a very aggressive scent, is more approachable and worth trying if you fancy a conventional but well done masculine with a fruity-sweet twist.

20th May, 2018

Sudestada by Fueguia

Sudestada is a nice aromatic cedar fragrance with neroli (I smell more orange than neroli), straightforward and not much smoky. I don't find any tobacco here. It has a refined, restrained aura, and doesn't come across as synthetic to my nose. There is an autumnal quality to this scent. On my skin Sudestada has moderate (in fact sillage is good for this type of fragrance) sillage and duration based on a moderate application of about 5 sprays. I detect a hint of vetiver in this, and it does remind of some vetiver fragrances (Vetiver Royal Bourbon by Oriza L. Legrand).

Sudestada doesn't particularly smell 'modern' (none of the ones I've tried from this line does). Depending on one's tastes, this can come across as 'archaic' or 'stuffy'. While pleasurable to wear, Sudestada is also simplistic, somewhat unremarkable and unmemorable, and the price is truly surreal. I find the quality to be on par with something from L'Occitane (perhaps a marginally higher concentration), whereas the price is at least six times.

18th May, 2018

Corsica Furiosa by Parfum d'Empire

Corsica Furiosa is a dense green vegetal scent, with a prominent tomato leaf note. While I like green scents, I do not particularly care for the ones that are vegetal (for e.g. Devin); hence Corsica Furiosa is not to my liking. On my skin the tomato leaf dominates, though I also detect notes of galbanum and hay. It is very earthy, and somewhat bitter, though the bitterness subsides into the dry down. It also becomes a little resinous. Duration on my skin is good at around six hours, while sillage is moderate.

Corsica Furiosa would be a must try for anyone interested in vegetal green scents. I think this would work well in any weather, but perhaps better in summer. While I think it is well composed and interesting, perhaps even unique, it is just not at all to my personal tastes. However, if this were someone's signature scent, I would definitely want to meet that person.

17th May, 2018

Teatro Olfattivo di Parma : Bell'Antonio by Hilde Soliani Profumi

An excellent synthesis of coffee and pipe tobacco, warm but not too sweet. The note of coffee is that of roasted beans, redolent, with a hint of espresso. It is successfully paired with an understated dry pipe tobacco note. The overall impression is that of an abstract gourmand, dry and rich, but also light. Bell'Antonio stays linear throughout on my skin, with discreet but discernible sillage, and excellent duration of over eight hours.

As it is unusually low key and not bombastic, it can be worn several days in a row - a great 'comfort scent'. Even though sillage is soft, others will notice it on you in close quarters. Bell'Antonio is defined by its gentle elegance, it does not smell synthetic at all, and is very refined. It does remind me a bit of Fumerie Turque, but is more cosy and inviting.

Bell'Antonio's demeanour is introspective, and it conjures up an image of a day spent at home with books at the arrival of winter. I also feel it successfully bridges the past and the present. It is not perhaps special or unique, but it is lovely.

17th May, 2018

Mûre et Musc by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Mûre et Musc is a clean, sheer musk composition with no frills. There is a vague lemony aspect to the soapy musk, initially, but thereafter it is almost a single note composition. It is not fruity at all, and the usual florals found in musk compositions (for e.g. rose in Kiehl's) are absent. Sillage is very soft, while duration is about five hours on skin based on a generous application.

Mûre et Musc is so ethereal that Kiehl's Musk seems opulent in comparison. Mûre et Musc is simply too subtle for my tastes; if this formed the base of a classic masculine with more citrus and herbs, I would be all over it. However, this could be ideal for anyone looking for a very straightforward and very low key but quality musk fragrance.

A key point in its favour is that even though it's a basic white musk fragrance, it has absolutely no synthetic or laundry musk vibe.

16th May, 2018

Sel Marin by Heeley

Sel Marin is a breezy, salty aquatic with no calone, some wet, green, mossy notes and an extended dry down. Contrary to others' views, I do not find Sel Marin to be a realistic representation of sea or beaches. It is more of an abstract interpretation. This abstraction is evident in the way the citrus notes (lemon and bergamot) are handled - they lose their atypical characteristics to become a part of the central accord of the composition. The most prominent actor is the salty effect, which is novel but can be sharp or synthetic to some. Many will revere or dislike Sel Marin largely because of it. In my mind Sel Marin is the mood of being on a desolate beach on a cool, cloudy day. As the hours pass by the fragrance quietens down, the salty shrillness makes way for soft notes of moss, wood and musk.

Sel Marin is stylistically very different from the other aquatics flooding the market - it has no sweetness, no calone, no fruity element, it's not stereotypical and it is more reflective and introspective. I find it to be similar to Sel de Vetiver, but Sel Marin is much more compelling and well crafted. I find Sel Marin to have low projection. I also thought it to be lacking in longevity, but that is not actually the case - the issue is that it quickly becomes a skin scent but persists for several hours. In summer it disappears from my skin in a quick three or four hours, but in slightly cooler weather it lingers on for at least seven or eight hours. I am not crazy about the salty aspect, I am okay with it. I wish it had a tad better projection in the dry down, but perhaps it was designed to be a skin scent. However, it does get noticed in close quarters, even after several hours.

Sel Marin also bears some structural similarities with Cuir Pleine Fleur, but is not as complex or innovative. I am torn between a neutral and a thumbs up, but will go with the latter on account of two considerations. Yes, it is expensive, but Sel Marin is one of the nice, interesting and innovative summer fragrances (even though personally it's too weak in very hot weather, but then most scents are ...), especially among aquatics. The second reason is a personal one, and it reflects my attitude towards beaches. I'm not crazy about them, but I do like to visit one that is deserted on a cool, cloudy, nondescript summer day.

15th May, 2018

Poivre Electrique by Atelier Cologne

After having tried the entire Collection Orient of Atelier Cologne, all of them miss the mark except for Philtre Ceylan. Poivre Electrique is built around a big dose of spicy black pepper, tempered with sparkling pink paper over a base that smells of mostly cedar to me. Any resins, if present, are very subdued. The focus is on the peppers, which are well done, but overall the composition lacks in dimension and depth. It reminds me of Lalique White and Honour Man. It is more full bodied and substantial than Lalique White, but the latter is more nuanced and elegant, though very fleeting; Honour Man is more complex than Poivre Electrique by incorporation of an airy incense note and a deeper and more engaging development and dry down.

I find Poivre Electrique to have good sillage initially but it calms down significantly after an hour or so, and duration is average on skin. I prefer Honour Man for its relative richness, while Lalique White, available at a fraction of the cost of Poivre Electrique, is a better budget option. Finally, Poivre Electrique comes nowhere near Piper Nigrum or Noir Epices, while Creed's Royal Oud is a much better exploration of pink pepper with cedar.

14th May, 2018

Cedrat Boise by Mancera

Fruity, woody, musky.

Cedrat Boise is a fresh fruity fragrance, with the emphasis on fruits. It's a basket of fruits, and you can sense lemon, pineapple and blackcurrant, while there is only a hint of florals. The fruits are supported by a conventional woody note that smells of cedar, and hints of musk. It is not leathery to me, and is quite linear from start to finish. I find that here the fruity notes together with musk create a strange accord, somewhat synthetic, that I do not quite like. I usually don't enjoy fruity fragrances, but this is well balanced.

This is often compared to Aventus, but Aventus has more prominent pineapple, and is distinctly smokier and leathery. Cedrat Boise has none of those attributes. Compared to Aventus, Cedrat Boise has persistent noticeable projection, good sillage and lasts more on skin. However, in this style my clear favourite is Morning Chess by Vilhelm Parfumerie. The fruity aspect of Cedrat Boise also reminds me a bit of Minotaure.

Overall a nice but unremarkable fresh fruity-woody composition with mainstream appeal.

14th May, 2018

03. Apr. 1968 by Rundholz Parfums

A simple but well done frankincense with adequate depth. I find this to be very good, linear frankincense with lashings of fruity heliotrope. As deadidol and Darvant have noted, it is similar to Sahara Noir. It is luscious, not smoky or woody as such, but is bright, warm and resinous. I prefer Sahara Noir which is woodier and smokier, but the frankincense note is very similar, and dominant in either composition. 03. Apr. 1968 is impressive, but not as compelling - though it smells more natural compared to Sahara Noir. I enjoy the quiet but radiant frankincense laden dry down much more than the initial phase.

Recommended for fans of incense, and a must try for fans of frankincense. Sillage is appreciable and duration is rather good. If anyone finds scents from CdG's Incense series to be too thin-bodied, this would most likely satisfy.

13th May, 2018

Colonia Essenza by Acqua di Parma

I find AdP Essenza to be a neroli prominent concentrated eau de cologne, with other citrus notes blended in, including lemon and orange. Unlike neroli dominant concentrated eau de colognes like Neroli Portofino or Cologne Indelelbile, it is not simplistic and is more interesting, as it borrows the refined and nuanced compositional skeleton from the classic Acqua di Parma Colonia. I find the floral elements to be almost indiscernible, as they come together to provide a supporting cast to the neroli-lemon-citrus composition. It is soapy, and at times bears a clean-fresh barbershop aspect (depending on one's reference for a barbershop). The dry down has noticeable woods, and is woodier compared to the original. I find it to have low key but consistent projection, and good duration on skin at over six hours.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza is nice in summers, but perhaps even better in spring and early fall, or on slightly cooler days. My only issue with this scent is that on the odd days I find it to be either boring, or it outstays its welcome. This is very much a matter of personal taste, as otherwise Essenza is definitely worthy of consideration for anyone looking for a concentrated eau de cologne - a category that I don't particularly care for in the first place.

08th May, 2018
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New Haarlem by Bond No. 9

I don't gel well usually with Bond No 9 scents, but one has to give credit where it's due. New Haarlem, by Maurice Roucel, is a high quality gourmand evocative of coffee and coffeeshops. It is not abstract, but more realistic. However, unlike most other artsy coffee fragrances, New Haarlem eschews anything to do with roasted coffee beans, and goes straight for lattes and cappuccinos - the pleasant, sweet aroma that draws in the crowds. Tonka and vanilla contribute to the sweetness, while there is also a slight edgy, bitter aroma, perhaps a sense of astringency. I imagine this is referencing the bitterness of coffee and coffee beans; I find this aspect to be of paramount importance, as it keeps things interesting and sustains my interest, and at the same time distinguishes New Haarlem from the hordes of unremarkable simple saccharine perfumes.

New Haarlem has a significant presence. It lasts several hours on my skin with good projection and offers a very nice sillage. It's hard to imagine New Haarlem being wearable when it is not cold. However, in the winter it blooms beautifully and is rather pleasurable. It can even be a mood lifter on cold mornings. New Haarlem isn't complex or complicated, but is a simple straightforward gourmand done right. It's not as sophisticated as Dries van Noten par Malle, as abstract as Eau Noire or as extreme as Jeux de Peau, but it has a spontaneous beauty and mass appeal. Easy to wear and easier to like.

06th May, 2018

Antico Caruso by Profumum

Antico Caruso is effectively a high quality, high end version of Le Male, cut from much finer cloth. It has an accord of almond and sandalwood, that is a little sweet and approximates the lavender-vanilla accord of Le Male. Antico Caruso is refined, with substantial depth and excellent quality, as with many of Profumum Roma's scents. I'm not sure about the barbershop references, it depends a bit on the barbershop aspect one has in mind. I can still see Antico Caruso as something that wet-shavers might appreciate.

While I like Antico Caruso a lot, I find that it fails to sustain my interest. It is too linear for too long, and on some days the sweetness is a little overwhelming. Antico Caruso shows remarkable tenacity on my skin at over eight hours, and has consistent projection almost throughout. This is testimony to the fact that Profumum works with quality materials and provides a high concentration of perfume. Antico Caruso, however, also exhibits a drawback I find in some other Profumum perfumes I have tried - while there is much depth and richness, there is a lack of complexity.

Definitely a must try among sweet woody scents (especially if one is okay with a high quality but simple and linear scent), as it is very well done.

06th May, 2018

Givenchy pour Homme by Givenchy

This is yet another sub par designer release, and hard to believe it's from Givenchy unless one doesn't know it. It is very chemical-synthetic and alcoholic in the opening, and settles down after a couple of minutes. I can't find any citrus (was it the alcohol?), but detect violet and warm spices, a hint of cardamom; there are some fruity notes, nothing much in the form of florals, and some woody notes; the spices and the woods combine to provide a leathery-amber accord after about an hour, which is its best phase to me. Soon thereafter the volume decreases, and it fades into soft sheer woods with a touch of warmth and sweetness.

The implied style is that of a fresh oriental; however, I find it to be more fruity-woody with a definite leather aspect. The spices are toned down; in fact, Mugler's Cuir Impertinent, though released years later and twice as expensive, comes across as a greatly improved exploration of the same idea. In fact, I even find some vague similarities with Tuscan Leather.

Definitely one to be avoided.

06th May, 2018

Bois d'Ascèse by Naomi Goodsir

Bois d'Ascese is among the hardcore smoky-woody scents, evocative of campfire, and at times reflective of a dark, forest-y green. There is a leathery nuance, perhaps with the addition of birch tar, while any tobacco or whiskey note is lost on me. I detect a touch of incense besides the leather; however, it is all about sooty, dark woods here. On my skin it is rather linear, with persistent projection and excellent longevity. It does mellow out somewhat after several hours as the slightest hint of labdanum becomes evident.

Bois d'Ascese is definitely an acquired taste. After spending considerable time with it, I have come to the conclusion that it is not for me. There isn't enough separation of notes, it is at times a little synthetic, and it doesn't excite me the way Sahara Noir does, for example. Neither does it convey any emotion, and perhaps it is lacking somewhat in abstraction. If you're after the dark, smoky, tarry wall of campfire wood - this is it. A must try for anyone interested in smoky-woody scents.

It is compelling and even manages to tell a story, but I'm missing the beauty here.

29th April, 2018

Déclaration by Cartier

Déclaration is not only an emphatic essay on woods, but is also a then-new look at bitter orange. Starting off with bergamot and bigarade, it is the latter that persists into a wonderful development of spicy woods. There is a brilliant interplay between the warmth of cumin and the freshness of cardamom; the cedary woods are dry, and together with the spices contrive to form an abstract leather accord. It is cosy, complex, sophisticated but not pretentious. The dry down is woods laced with spices, and a touch of musk. I love the soft, radiant sillage, and duration on my skin is excellent at over seven hours when applied liberally.

Déclaration references Eau d'Hermes (cologne-leather), Eau d'Orange Verte (bigarade), and is later referenced by Cologne Bigarade, Bigarade Concentreé, Terre d'Hermes and Epice Marine (the later creations being those of Ellena). Many noteworthy creations, but I find that it is here that all the brilliance of Ellena come together to create something unforgettable.

I recommend Déclaration to those who like spicy woods or citrusy leathers, though it's mandatory sample to it for anyone interested in perfumes. Déclaration is a pleasure to wear all year; however, on brisk autumn mornings it is something special. Déclaration brings to mind unhurried elegance, of afternoons spent at one's favourite art museum on a slow day. Warm, radiant and utterly classy.

13th April, 2018 (last edited: 08th May, 2018)

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

Tom Ford has a taste for bold accords with retro throwbacks, that is evident throughout the Private Blends range. Tobacco Vanille is an interpretation of the ambience of gentlemen's clubs, redolent of warm, aromatic pipe tobacco. Tobacco Vanille is an oriental, centred primarily around the two notes of tobacco and vanilla. A dramatic opening of spicy, sweet tobacco, very rich and even loud, sets off the proceedings. The note of tobacco here is abstract rather than photorealistic, while clove and other spices ensure it is wonderfully multilayered. This accord softens a little in an hour, as a vanilla comes more to the forefront of the composition. The vanilla is gourmandish, somewhat crude and a bit too saccharine. While it pairs reasonably well with the spicy tobacco, it also becomes the dominant accord on my skin as much of the complexity and nuances are lost. Tobacco Vanille is fairly linear thereafter, and overall possesses excellent sillage and duration.

Tobacco Vanille smells very sophisticated and multi-layered on a card, but on skin it can appear somewhat rough - especially towards the dry down. What works in its favour is that here the composition has an initial edge, and the chief pairing of notes complement each other. The opening act of Tobacco Vanille is immensely arresting, but thereafter it can become underwhelming in the base. It may be argued that it might be a victim of its own success: it's perhaps hard to sustain or follow up on something so wonderful. One has to agree with Luca Turin here - Tobacco Vanille is a good fragrance, perhaps as a parfum d'ambience; but a bit doubtful as a personal fragrance, especially since it lacks in abstraction. I primarily attribute my neutral reaction to the calorie laden dry down; to some can be excruciatingly sweet.

08th February, 2018

Black by Bulgari

A kaleidoscopic modern vanillic oriental, Bvlgari Black is elusive and intriguing. Crafted carefully and cleverly, Black is a wonderful interplay of leather, smoky tea, florals, a rubber like accord and vanilla. Yet, rather than being loud or cacophonous, Black is gentle, persistent, wearing like a translucent veil of grey. Black opens with a hint of jasmine, but is soon accompanied by a wonderful note of black tea, a little smoky. As these persist, the development leads to a famed accord of 'rubber', to which the jasmine contributes notably. This is the phase where a leathery aspect comes to the fore, that I associate more with new car tires than anything else. The final development brings a dry, non-sweet vanilla laced with musk.

Bvlgari Black is a unique and interesting fragrance, and perhaps best showcases the talent and ingenuity of Annick Menardo. It is beautifully androgynous, futuristic and very memorable. While I admire Black more than I love it, it is one of my personal favourites to wear on a cool rainy day. I find sillage to be close and persistent, and duration to be excellent at over several hours. However, perhaps the greatest achievement here is how all these innovative and seemingly discordant elements come together to create a whole more than the sum of its parts, and an end product that is a complete personal fragrance. It's like a L'Artisan, perhaps before L'Artisan became widely respected for being innovative. Those in disagreement with Black usually come around to the fact that it is a venerable perfume. Just that it's not stereotypical, but perhaps a trifle quirky.

01st February, 2018

One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

Bogart's One Man Show has a reputation preceding it, of its hyper masculine demeanour, and being able to clear rooms on account of its strength. While all of this is rather exaggerated, there is indeed an element of truth. I find One Man Show to be dry, sharp and even aggressive at times. It opens with a sharp accord of citrus, basil and galbanum; very soon the leathery attribute announces its presence, and this feature is similar to leathers such as Versace L'Homme and Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme. There's an astringency in One Man Show, and this persists throughout the mid phase where the herbal elements persist, there is an added note of incense, and any floral element is barely discernible. In the base I register some mossy woods and labdanum. Duration is excellent and sillage is good based on a moderate application.

Unlike the excellent leather of Bogart (Signature / Classic, 1975), One Man Show reveals a few cracks that prevent me from having an overall favourable impression. It seems a little unbalanced in its 'masculine powerhouse' style, with the emphasis being on masculine; there is no contrasting note or accord to complement the assertive leather and the woods. While certain tastes will no doubt appreciate One Man Show, personally it seems to carry too much baggage of the 80s' excesses - in the wrong ways; additionally, it lacks in sophistication and can be perceived to be crude, and its style appears somewhat dated as I write this review in 2018, if not largely irrelevant.


(Note: Review is based on a bottle from around 2011.)
31st January, 2018

Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

There are ambers, and then there is Ambre Sultan.

Ambre Sultan is a big amber perfume with a focus on herbal elements. The point of departure is an overdose of medicinal bay leaf; an uncanny but tremendously successful pairing. There is a touch of oregano; together the herbal parts perfectly complement and cut through the sweetness of amber, resins and vanilla. The herbs are more prominent initially, but prevail till the finish when the vanilla is more prominent. The sweetness is not sticky or cloying, but thick and dry, like a shawl.

Ambre Sultan is immensely enveloping, and retains one's interest unlike ninety five percent of all 'amber' perfumes. One can wear this day in, day out. One can wear this anywhere, from the Sahara to the Poles.



25th January, 2018

Outrageous by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

I only smell some green apple and laundry musk in here. I hardly get any spice. In fact, Outrageous is closer to mass market fresh sporty-aquatic scents, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents.

A complete misfit in the Malle line, I perceive Outrageous to be a poor joke that casual unsuspecting buyers might become a victim of. A cash grab, if there ever was one.

25th January, 2018

Acqua Essenziale by Salvatore Ferragamo

Generic, synthetic and screechy - this is precisely the type of 'mall scent' that one should avoid at all times. Acqua Essenziale recycles 'fresh masculine designer' olfactory clichés using what it seems like bottom shelf materials, and is absolutely inessential and inconsequential. I would not be surprised if this perfume was conceived of, blended and bottled in less than a week, just to fill shelf space.

In this style go for Nautica Voyage (for something fun), CK One (interesting androgyny) or Acqua di Gio (more sophisticated and seamless).

25th January, 2018

Baie de Genièvre by Creed

One of the few perfumes that Creed has a lot of reasons to be proud about, so it's no wonder it's been 'vaulted' (Creed's fancy-pants synonym for discontinuation). Baie de Genievre is a simple (not simplistic) fragrance that has a great idea and a top notch execution. Juniper berries come together with cinnamon and cloves to create a warm barbershop vibe, laid down over a base of vetiver and ambergris. There is adequate separation of notes, a rarefied feel, and this smells much more natural than most of the modern Creeds. I find sillage to be a little muted, but duration is excellent and lasts through a day at work.

Baie de Genievre brings to mind bespoke suits, and the warm ambience created by playing Lester Young LPs at home in the after hours. An unsolicited advice: best if you can avoid the silly prices, you'd rather want to get those LPs instead.

25th January, 2018

Aqua Velva Ice Blue by Williams

Note: Review is of the current version.

To the best of my knowledge, Aqua Velva Ice Blue comes only in the form of an aftershave, commonly found in drugstores in North America. It's mass market, more so than Pinauds, perhaps matched by Gillette. Aqua Velva Ice Blue is fresh, minty, sporty and has a musky dry down. While not unpleasant, it smells very run of the mill for its market segment; the scent is also weaker than Gillette, which could be a positive as many don't want their aftershaves to linger on. It stings less than Pinaud or Gillette, but also seems to be of somewhat inferior quality to the aforementioned brands.

It's okay to have it, but one can get better aftershaves (either in terms of scent, astringency, or moisturising properties) from Pinaud, Gillette or Nivea.

20th January, 2018

Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Voleur de Roses.

Floral woods.

Rose and patchouli have gone hand in hand in perfumery since many decades ago. Voleur de Roses is a rose-patchouli, but unique in an overcrowded niche. There is a haunting melancholic quality to it, helped with a rose that's fresh, moist, dark and plummy - paired with an earthy, damp patchouli. Part of it hints at soil, but it is rather abstract. This is a perfume that tells a story. Someone came and took away the roses in bloom, just after the summer showers. All that's left are a few petals in the ground. Voleur de Roses - what a perfect name.

Like several other L'Artisans, I find Voleur de Roses to be a subdued fragrance. It has average duration on skin of about five hours, but sillage is rather muted after the first thirty minutes or so. Still, I'm still willing to ignore this in consideration of how charming and memorable Voleur de Roses is. Among other rose-patchoulis, Voleur de Roses smells vaguely similar to Czech & Speake's No 88, though the latter is more brooding, gothic and opulent. Voleur de Roses is elusive, and therein lies part of its attraction. Once the roses leave after about an hour, the dry down is a sublime floral-woods, faint and delicate.

Voleur de Roses is lovely to wear on rainy summer days. Unfortunately it might leave you before you'd want it to, but you'd long for it and want to go back to it. There are gazillions of rose-patchoulis on the market, but Voleur de Roses remains a rare specimen.

20th January, 2018

Carven Homme by Carven

More often than not, if a scent is from the 90s (or early 2000s) and discontinued, chances are it was a gem. Carven Homme is very much a classy woody masculine with some spices. It's not the most original. It takes inspiration from Egoiste and Gucci Envy for Men, but it is unique enough to stand out in such distinguished company, and good enough to hold its own.

The brilliance of Carven Homme is in the incredibly smooth blending. The backbone is formed by a cedar-sandalwood accord, while cinnamon, lavender, vanilla and nutmeg add flesh and nuanced beauty to the composition. The blending is sheer ingenuity. The elments are so finely interwoven that they create a marvellous aura, yet they are masterfully accented so that rather than being blurry the effect is multi-layered.

The craftsmanship is also highlighted by the way Carven Homme wears on skin. It is rich, deep, with adequate sillage initially, but always gentlemanly. It becomes a bit muted after a couple of hours but has excellent longevity and can easily be worn for a day - an excellent 'eau de toilette' by construction. Carven Homme is refined, articulate, intelligent, and yet highly approachable and possessing that comforting sense of everydayness.

16th January, 2018

Incense Rosé by Tauer

I expected to at least like Incense Rose, since I love rose and incense. I find Incense Rose to be a pretty linear and well composed accord of rose, woods and incense. It's engaging and has a good presence; however, there's also something extremely sharp, shrill and abrasive in this that persists throughout. I could be wrong, but it smells like something that comes from the woods or the incense (rather than the rose). It's shrill, sharp attribute is also present, albeit to a much lesser degree, in Thirty-Three, a composition I enjoy. It's too amplified in Incense Rose, and overbears everything else. Additionally, Incense Rose smells not dissimilar to certain varieties of paan and paan masala from the subcontinent. I think Incense Rose has good sillage and duration, but I could have been distracted because of my experience.

Incense Rose is perhaps best suited for those looking for rose with sharp woods and incense. It's dark and hyper dry. More of a beast than a beauty, but then, beauty lies in the nose of the beerholder. Definitely sample first.

16th January, 2018

Égoïste / L'Égoïste by Chanel

Spicy woods.

Egoiste is all about light, subtle woods, primarily an accord of sandalwood tempered finely with spices and florals. Rose is there, an abstract presence that brightens up the composition, while cinnamon and coriander accentuate the sandalwood. There's a delightful touch of dry vanilla in the base.

Egoiste, for all its charm and beauty, is somewhat fleeting on my skin, and sits close to skin throughout its lifespan. Sillage is close, but lovely. I find the current version to have a vague musky aspect (perhaps ambrette seed), while another version I'm familiar with (from the early 2000s) is brighter, more sparkling and has a greater emphasis on the woods. The earlier version isn't richer or deeper, but does last a tad longer.

Egoiste, especially if one looks past potential issues with sillage and duration, is one of the most charming perfumes out on the market. It is also often a reference for sandalwood. However, one might find Tam Dao EdP, Samsara EdP (preferably an earlier bottle), or even Bois des Iles to be more useful if specifically seeking a sandalwood. Tam Dao and Bois des Iles are more focussed, while Samsara is more opulent.

It's notable that Carven Homme (1999) and Gucci's Envy for Men (1998) are quite related to Egoiste in terms of composition. While Envy for Men (with a terrific ginger note) is more exotic and oriental, Carven Homme successfully bridges the two styles and is mandatory sampling for anyone interested in Egoiste.

It's best to approach Egoiste (or any perfume, for that matter) with an open mind. Just don't expect a big perfume, but maybe you can expect something beautiful.

16th January, 2018