Reviews by d_l_esmond

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    d_l_esmond
    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Phul-Nana by Grossmith

    Time traveler's essential companion

    I have a longstanding fascination with old perfumes, probably trying to recapture something from a hazy past. By my age, I should be nostalgic for the seventies, but the yearning is for times I never lived through. So this nostalgia is imaginary, sort of à la recherche du temps jamais vécu.

    In my quest for nostalgic, retro perfumes (not talking here about vintage, these are ‘fresh’ bottles), this one seems the most authentic, uncompromising and best quality so far. For me, this really makes time travel happen. Not sure if anybody remembers an old film called Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve where he ends up travelling back in time to 1912, to an Edwardian boudoir and to the lace covered bosom of a belle époque beauty. This is the scent of that boudoir and bosom!

    Now coming back to reality, this is a potent, interesting and long-lasting fragrance. Starts with a bracing spicy geranium, with a bit of citrus to lighten the punch; this initial phase is much longer than the top notes we usually get these days. The next stage is fairly constant, a woody floral, slightly ambery mix, very tenacious and with strong projection. I would say that it is unisex, but as a man you need to be quite brave to wear it, while on a woman it would be less eccentric.

    I had to buy the bottle and I usually wear it for my own sake, enveloped in its potency and capacity for dépaysement, in rêveries of other times. But I am getting bolder and started wearing it more often.

    Pros: Different from anything others are wearing, long lasting, potent and high quality
    Cons: It needs a bit of courage to wear it"

    11th September, 2013

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    En Passant by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Almost there, but not quite

    This is quite pleasant and interesting , especially at the beginning when it does come through as a credible, non-chemical and fresh lilac. It morphs into a moderate, pleasing green floral very soon and stays like that for the rest of its life. More feminine than masculine, understated and gentle.

    Sadly, not for me, despite my liking of lilac. My current taste leads me more into Baroque and Victorian dimensions and this is definitely not there. So the quest is still on for believable lilac, lily of the valley and hyacinth.

    Pros: Starts well and for a few minutes is exquisite
    Cons: Understated and feminine (don't see it unisex)."

    11th September, 2013

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    Lys Fume by Tom Ford

    I’ve been looking for a masculine floral for a long time now and it seems that this new collection might be the answer. It is very hard to find a floral that is not overwhelmingly feminine, from one end to the other.

    This one is a very good lily that starts with a realistic rendition of the pleasant aspect of the flower and then hides the rather difficult side in an interesting light smokiness. Lilies, like many white flowers, have a pleasant, clean, crisp first smell, but if you stick your nose in it, the next phase is quite indolic, bitter organic, a bit dirty. That phase is quite unpleasant and ruins the encounter with the flower.

    But here that second phase is skillfully covered up with fresh smoke which hides that bitterness and cleanses it. So far so good – clean floral, nice turn with the smoke, all acceptably masculine. The final stage is quite different, some spicy vanilla that comes across as a bit sweet, although with a hint of rum. This stage is quite long lasting and more feminine, less unisex than the rest, but not really that original and altogether doesn’t have much to do with the top and middle notes.

    Worth noting that it developed beautifully on my hand, while it really didn’t work on the card. Quite long lasting, unusually so in the top and middle notes, and with good projection, too.

    14 January, 2013

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    Lyn Harris : Le Cologne by Marks and Spencer

    Pale and barely noticeable, really struggling to register anything here. Understatement is not always a virtue. With so little presence, once might say there is an absence here. I won’t elaborate on what actually is absent, as I am still a fan of LH’s other work.

    21st December, 2012

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    Lyn Harris : Le Sauvage by Marks and Spencer

    Toned down citrusy freshness, masculine and generic. Inoffensive, fairly long lasting, good value for money. It is what it is – as mainstream and safe as one can imagine. Enough said.

    21st December, 2012

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    Lyn Harris : Le Noir by Marks and Spencer

    After a bit of an expedition, I managed to get to a Marks and Spencer store that stocks this range. I tried all three male fragrances. I think this one is the best of the three, at least on projection and longevity.
    It starts well, with a strong, warm, rich, spicy and heady mix. It was suggestive of a rose somehow. But then the patchouli takes over, quite fast and stays dominant for the rest of the time. Dries down to a pleasant patchouli-amber base. I feel that this can be quite comfortably unisex, as there is a bit of rounded sweetness at the beginning and the amber towards the end.
    I went to the shop determined to buy at least one of the range. I might have to try it again, as I wasn’t convinced that there is any distinction or surprise here. While I am trying very hard not to be snobbish here (this is a product for a bland high street shop), I can’t help feeling that something is missing.

    21st December, 2012

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    La Fumée Arabie by Miller Harris

    After getting hooked on La Fumée, I was quite curious to see whether the added Arabie meant an improvement or not. The oud took it into a different direction and while there is still a recognisable smokey – incensey – woodiness, the outcome is more rounded, complex and gentle. La Fumée is quite assertive, masculine and direct, evocative, but a bit one dimensional. This one is more understated and less certain, softer and more complex. There is more spice and less burnt wood in it, and something fresh and a bit bracing avoids the usual sweet oud stereotype. The coriander and the vanilla come and go, rarely discernible. And towards the end the smoke dissipates, but the oud stays. Not really in the same way as in agarwood based Arabic perfume oils as the name would indicate, but much more ethereal and understated. I don’t think this is an Orientalist perfume.
    Reasonably good staying power and projection. Comfortably unisex. Something for the evening or late afternoon.
    The packaging, bottle and pricing indicate something expensive and exclusive. I was trying to ignore all that and decide only on the scent itself. In the end, I think it does come across as sophisticated, luxurious and very civilised.

    18 November, 2012

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    L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris

    This was my very first MH purchase a few years ago when I wanted an evening fragrance that was distinctive and grown up. It definitely delivered on those criteria, especially that there is so much ambiguity whether this is meant to be a feminine or masculine fragrance. Most often it is listed as feminine, but occasionally as unisex. I would agree that this is predominantly for women, although men can wear it (mind you, it takes some courage to pull it off, so it is only for the bold experimental metrosexual men or for the confirmed bachelor types like myself).
    In many ways, it is in the same register as some of the classic Guerlain perfumes, deeply anchored in animalic sensuality, emphasising the physicality of the body, but not adding anything else to confuse or disguise. It shifts a bit into a vague powdery, leathery undertone, with a dry amber neutralising the musk. Fairly good lasting power, moderate projection (which is not a bad thing, as there should be some restraint and modesty). One needs to establish rapport with somebody beforehand and only after that expose them to this…
    I stopped using it mostly because I don’t go out anymore in the evenings and wearing it at home while eating dinner in front of the television would interfere with the smell of the food. And that would be just sad. But if I ever hit the town again, it’s good to know that there is still something in the cabinet that can make magic happen ;-)

    18 November, 2012

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    Nouvelle Edition Figue Amere by Miller Harris

    Gentle, pleasant and convincing fig. It seems that everything here is about moderation: not too sweet, not too fruity, not too bitter, despite its name. Definitely more feminine than masculine, with fairly decent staying power.

    17 November, 2012

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    Fleurs de Sel by Miller Harris

    Incredibly complex, dynamic fragrance. If shifts between herbal, fresh and green spice that leads into something medicinal, and also strong leather and whiskey. Very hard to pin down as it keeps changing, although the leather remains a constant feature for me. The initial opening impression is whiskey, but one can immediately unpack that into the thyme, rosemary, clary sage, all coming together into a bracing medicinal or herbalist vapor (a similar impact as in Terre de Bois, currently my favourite from MH). The leather is there, a bit stronger than I would like, probably amplified by the iris. The salt comes later, not marine, but more imbued with vegetal and woody undertones, although a bit of table salt with iodine surfaces now and again. It manages to convey at the same time freshness (the green herbs) and some kind of confinement (the leather), with the salt coming into it more as an effort of the imagination and maybe tying the two together.
    Excellent staying power, good projection. More of a daytime or afternoon wear, but would work in the evening, too.
    There is some confusion about whether this is a feminine or masculine or unisex fragrance (currently, on the Miller Harris website it is listed for men). I am more inclined to say that this is predominantly masculine, but very appropriate for assertive, strong, sensible women. Definitely not girly, but not hyper-masculine either, as far away from fragrance gender stereotypes as possible. A serious grown-up scent, sophisticated and a tad complicated.

    17 November, 2012

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    Le Pamplemousse by Miller Harris

    Quite authentic, credible grapefruit well executed and well maintained (good staying power for a fresh citrus). There is an allusive green bitter undertone that comes and goes and makes it distinctive (for a while) from other dominant citruses. Although most of the time it reminds me of Harris Miller’s own Citrus Citrus. However, this one is more complex and longer lasting and somehow fresher. Would work better as a truly unisex fragrance, too. On the downside, it is somewhat one-dimensional, but it doesn’t claim to be anything else – grapefruit.

    04 November, 2012

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    Black Afgano by Nasomatto

    I had to find out what’s all the hype about this, so I managed to get a sample of the stuff from ebay. Setting aside all the marketing and the fandom, the fragrance is interesting. Also, long lasting, complex and definitely unusual. But is it good? I guess if I was younger and wanted to be (smell) really different, I would swear by it. Kind of how Goths or Emos should smell like. Or Hippies – ageing, nostalgic Hippies who have lots of money.
    It covers a whole range of smokiness, from incense to marijuana. Starts quite sweet, but becomes much cleaner and fresher towards the end. Well executed in all stages, but still can’t really convince myself that it is pleasant. It fits in with some of the fragrances from L’Etat Libre d’Orange as it aims more towards being different than pleasant. And just like that range, it is also somewhat contrived, pretentious and pointless. Or I am just too old to get it.

    01st November, 2012

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    Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

    I tried and I tried... then I asked a friend and he tried, too. Nothing. Can't smell anything anywhere. It does amplifies other fragrances and after experimenting with a few samples, one gets some interesting layered combinations. Although it doesn't work with everything. I guess it might work on some other people who are able to smell the actual molecule in the solution - maybe somebody with a better nose or somebody younger.

    01st November, 2012

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    Idole de Lubin by Lubin

    Interesting, complex and surprising. I read it as hyper-masculine, maybe because of the leather-alcohol punch that opens it. In the next stage it rounds up nicely, spicy and sweet. The smoky, tobacco notes emphasis the masculine note. Hard to put my finger on it why, but it reminds me of the 70s, more in spirit than how actually masculine fragrances smelt like – this is how we could imagine the 70s from the 2010s.
    And I must add how much I love the bottle - a classic design!

    01st November, 2012

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    Pour Un Homme by Caron

    Lavender, lavender, lavender. But overall, quite decent, straightforward and pleasant. I guess the simplicity of the formulation is a reflection of its origins as an older fragrance for men. It is quite linear and one dimensional, although the lavender is nicely rounded and softened by the vanilla without becoming too sweet. It had quite good staying power on me, with moderate projection. Don’t expect complexity or any mystery or remembrance of things past – all you get is lavender.

    31st October, 2012

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    La Fumée by Miller Harris

    Intensely evocative fragrance, makes me travel from an autumnal garden where leaves are burnt to a High Church service mystically shrouded in clouds of incense smoke. A hint of the Orient somewhere, balmy and warm.
    Smoke is captured well and it does stay from beginning till the end. Sensual and festive, almost Proustian, if you replace the Madelaines with a smoking fireplace.
    It is something I would wear in the afternoon or evening, more masculine than feminine, more holy and outdoorsy than boudoir. Synaesthesia at work every time I sniff it, it is definitely takes me on a journey!

    10th June, 2012 (Last Edited: 22 June, 2012)

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