Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gmstrack

Total Reviews: 101

Vanille Insensée by Atelier Cologne

Vanille Insensee by Atelier Cologne is one of the only three vanilla-centered fragrances that I would consider adding to my collection. The list also includes Salimar EDC and L de Lolita Lempicka (sadly discontinued). Lately, it seems like half the beauty and bath products on the market are laced with vanilla, and I can see why—it is universal, comforting, and not “perfume-y”. On the other hand, if I am going to burn a hole in my wallet and purchase a fragrance, I except something more than vanilla extract. Vanille Insensee reminds me of a vintage perfume that developed for several hours on the skin. The top notes are long gone and only a hint of floral accord remains. What is left is a gently humming benzoin-laden vanilla with a dose of subdued “oakmoss”, a touch of vetiver, and airbrushed musk. That being said, VI is far from vintage with its burnt sugar turned up full blast and the civet strategically omitted. Even the moss accord has been declawed and given a bath.

VI is very approachable, yet it provides the wearer with something more than vanilla scented body lotion. My favorite part is the freshly cut hay accord that is screaming for help under the pile of sugar and moss/musk.

06th August, 2017

Replica Lazy Sunday Morning by Martin Margiela

Lazy Sunday Morning by Maison Martin Margiela immediately reminded me of Narciso Rodriguez for Her EDT given the generous dose of slightly animalic, fruity musk. However, once one zooms in for a closer look, it is clear that the two compositions are very different. Both open with fruit and musk: LSM presents a large dose of aldehydes, while NR for Her has just a pinch of shimmer that quickly dissolves into the bold fruit (peach accord). Next, it becomes clear that the main floral note in LSM is not orange blossom, but in NR for Her it sticks around until the end. The floral note in LSM simultaneously melds with the sharp-edged aldehydes and the snuggly musk. To me this is what makes the fragrance brilliant—it lifts off the skin while For Her forms an amalgam with skin and hair. LSM has a subtle salt accord (feminine sweat) that slowly evolves within the folds of musk—it IS the skin wearing perfume.

How does one choose between the two? I think the aldehydes offer a big enough punch to be off-putting for aldehyde wimps (like me), but LSM almost makes For Her feel like the pretty, polite younger sister.

Maybe I’m a sucker for the marketing.

05th August, 2017

Replica Lipstick On by Martin Margiela

Lipstick On by Maison Martin Margiela was a pleasant surprise. The iris is the waxy, play-dough type and it is paired with a touch of rose and galbanum. Yes, this absolutely smells like grandma’s makeup bag, but manufactured in 2015. One could accuse LO of being “generic”, and maybe it is not a groundbreaking fragrance, but it is nicely done. There is a brightness that sticks around after the opening that keeps the whole thing from becoming too sweet and doughy—cherry-almond pastry coupled with earthy-wax. When I take a good snort, a 3D architecture unfolds with all of the high notes, mid notes, and low notes taking a turn. As the fragrance develops on skin, it slowly warms up and becomes snuggly—one of my new favorites!

27th May, 2017
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Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu by Bulgari

If someone were to ask me to describe Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu, I would tell them that it is a starched iris and orange blossom with a heavy hit of spices and tea. The first opening of Bleu is hard-hitting and even abrasive, but to me, it is one of the most gorgeous orange blossom compositions I have ever sniffed. The juxtaposition of the suntan lotion with intense chai spices is intriguing. Typically, spiced tea accords are paired with sweet, creamy vanilla, so the aforementioned combination is rather unexpected. The base of the fragrance is similar to the clean, starched iris found in Infusion d’Iris by Prada, but the effect is almost hot and dry instead of cold and metallic. Overall, I am impressed by the Bulgari Eau Parfumée line and would recommend it as an outstanding example of tea-based fragrances; although, I would wear Bleu while in the mood for iris or orange blossom, not tea. Note: there is definitely a lavender accord kicking around, but I typically have a tough time picking out lavender—it appears and disappears, darting in and out of the cloud of iris and white musk.

21st May, 2017

My Burberry by Burberry

I recently received a sample of My Burberry by Burberry from the local Macy’s, stuffed it in my bag, and promptly forgot about it. To be honest, I was not that excited to try it and figured that I would save it for a rainy day when I had nothing better to do. Anyway, when I finally did get around to trying it on, I was pleasantly surprised and regretted not doing so earlier. The fruity, acidic opening quickly transitions to a green, fruity-floral. There is a prominent rose note that reminds me of shampoo from the 1980s, but the overall effect is quite pleasant. The aquatic aspect of the fragrance is not salty nor drenched in melon—it is more of a dewy, mountain spring accord. The fruity aspect adds a brightness that nicely ties in with the floral notes, lifting the composition off the skin. To me, My Burberry does not (literally) smell like “an English garden after the rain”, but it successfully evokes the fantasy.

Final verdict: My Burberry is not original or groundbreaking, but the mission was accomplished by the perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian, who consistently produces simple, yet intelligent compositions for the contemporary market. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys fragrances that are “fresh” and feminine, or to fans of fruity-florals, springtime florals, and aquatic florals. I would not recommend My Burberry to the budget conscious, because there are alternatives out there for a fraction of the price.

29th April, 2017

Good Girl Gone Bad by By Kilian

Good Girl Gone Bad, as other reviewers have mentioned, brings to mind “girl” but does little to bring us anything “bad”. The price, name, and presentation set a level of expectation that, I must admit, is difficult to satisfy; so with that being said, I braced myself for mediocrity. The opening is a nice mixture of aldehydes, peach, and laundry detergent. The floral notes are quite soapy and free of animalic aspect, mostly rose and sterile white floral. Sometimes, there is a trace of smokiness lost in the starch, so maybe someone is had a cigarette in the laundry room two weeks ago? I can almost see GGGB as a nod to Arpege with its bold peach and aldehydes, but it falls short of being anything memorable. I’m having a difficult time deciding on the rating because the price is ridiculous for what it is. A solid middle-of-the-road fragrance is reasonable at $80-100 for 50 mL, but at $260, one begins to wonder if the tailor fooled the emperor.

29th January, 2017

Pétroleum by Histoires de Parfums

Petroleum by Histoires de Parfums opens with citrus rubber band-aid and then morphs into WWIII as all the petrol fields in the world start smoking at once. WWIII simmers down and to expose that trademark old books and furniture accord that HdP does so well. Now I’m getting a touch of carpet infused with cigarette smoke. The carpet (and maybe the couch) is probably on fire because burning plastic is in there somewhere too. This probably sounds terrible, and to some it probably will be, but there is an elegance to the whole mess that makes it seem, well, wearable. Under all of the madness a dignified, soapy leather is screaming for help. It’s definitely one of the strangest fragrances I’ve ever tried.

I’m not going to wear it, but someone should.

16th January, 2017

1826 Eugénie de Montijo by Histoires de Parfums

1826 by Histoires de Parfums is a dignified patchouli fragrance that doesn’t strike me as particularly feminine or masculine. There is a touch of powdery iris that keeps the whole thing from smelling like patchouli oil. The overall effect is earthy-clean. This is a far cry from all of the candy-patchouli clones out there and a nice option for someone into patch but looking for something different. One thing that I really enjoy about HdP fragrances is the old books/furniture accord that seems to be infused in some of the compositions. Maybe this is just my take on it, but for those who enjoy that sort of smell, I highly recommend checking out HdP.

16th January, 2017

Tubéreuse 3 L'Animale by Histoires de Parfums

Tubereuse 3 Animale by Histoires de Parfums opens with intense grapy tuberose with a touch of menthol. The fragrance quickly settles down into an oak moss (maybe)and pipe tobacco combination that comes across as a bit vintage. I’m not really picking up on the “green grass” note because the composition leans a little towards musty books and fruit—a little reminiscent of Mitsouko. Also, I’m not entirely sure about the “animale” part; the tuberose is definitely full-on, but not as indolic as other tuberose fragrances. The quality/performance is decent, so I would definitely recommend this fragrance to someone wanting to smell like white flowers and old books.

16th January, 2017

Gucci Guilty by Gucci

Gucci guilty is a fragrance that I always wanted to dislike, but just could not find the gumption to be completely grossed out. It’s excessively fruity in that shrill North American mall sort of way—one of my pet peeves when it comes to designer fragrances. Guilty opens with a boozy lychee note that settles down into a synthetic peach that just doesn’t want to go away. After being hit over the head with terrifying fruit, one becomes aware of a nice green spring floral note (lilac / lily-of-the-valley) and a touch of sensual musk similar to the one found in NR For Her. The result smells like a quintessential designer fragrance for women, with a touch of weirdness, maybe a little sweat. The best part is that Guilty doesn’t fall apart on the skin and it continues to develop into something more approachable as the hours wear on.

Not my thing, but not bad; a nice springtime scent

16th January, 2017

Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford

Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford is a pleasant surprise and proves that risk taking can still happen once in a while in the mainstream fragrance world. The end result is a plastic-y white floral that is creamy, yet slightly salty; just weird. There is a warm sweetness, but not in a typically vanilla-candy-mainstream way. I’m convinced that Orchid Soleil was designed for androids on tropical vacation. We should start taking bets—when will OS be discontinued?

27th November, 2016

No. 5 L'Eau by Chanel

Chanel No 5 L'Eau opens with plenty of orange, which sticks around instead of simply disappearing after the opening. The florals are light and not very distinctive and the luscious sandalwood is nowhere to be found. The aldehydes murmur instead of screech. Eventually, a light, powdery iris shows up and saves the show; the perfume starts making sense. The dry down isn’t a generic aquatic musk—it is that beautiful trademark iris.

27th November, 2016

Jour d'Hermès Gardénia by Hermès

Jour d’Hermes Gardenia by Hermes opens with a promising lactonic gardenia-type white floral and some aldehydes. The jasmine note is prominent. The creamy gardenia accord is tempered by a soapiness; this gardenia is definitely prim and proper with maybe a touch of animalic orange blossom, but nothing that pushes the composition away from the innocent and fresh territory. It definitely smells good, but turns a bit generic and mushy in the dry down. I think Estee Lauder has better gardenia offerings—Tuberose Gardenia offers a gorgeous, realistic gardenia and Beyond Paradise offers a creamy, soapy, abstract gardenia.

27th November, 2016
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Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker

Stash SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker is a perfume that suits my personal taste. I just can’t get enough woody incense and Stash really brought it, CdG style. Time for a controversial statement: Stash is better than Santal Blush.

I also enjoyed Lovely, given that NR for Her EDT is one of my favorites. SJP—please release more fragrances!

30th October, 2016

Nirvana Rose by Elizabeth and James

Nirvana Rose by Elizabeth and James has a tart, boozy opening that sticks around well into the dry down. Earthy rose fragrances usually remind me of red wine and NR is no exception. My favorite part is the unapologetic vetiver-musk base that lends a perfect counter balance (darkness) to the ferocious red rose. The rose gives everything lift and dimension and turns the fragrance into something special, almost formal, without feeling like a costume. It deceptively simple, yet everything you want a perfume to be. To me, NR, seems to transcend gender and age barriers. I’m also impressed that it isn’t loaded down with vanilla and candy. Homerun—a true standout among the other designer offerings.

The bottle is gorgeous; the longevity is decent, and it’s not stupid expensive.

Highly recommended. 4.5/5
30th October, 2016

Mon Paris by Yves Saint Laurent

Mon Paris by YSL (2016) is another pointless release and smells like someone sprayed every perfume in a department store at the same time. Even the likes of a crazy perfume hobbyist might be put off by this one, given its military-grade high-pitched fruity-floral screech. I dare the United States military to reinvest in their fragrance-based weapons research program, in fact, I suggest that they employ this simple algorithm: First, hit everyone with a nasty cocktail of rotting carrion, vomit, and fart—that should take care of the majority of people and only a few perfumistas will be left standing, probably trying to dissect the accords while hemming and hawing over whether the composition should be classified a floral aquatic or chypre. Next, launch Mon Paris to take out the stragglers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it looks like the DoD is releasing another solicitation; time to start writing. BTW—please contact me if you are left standing after both attacks.

02nd October, 2016

Chantilly by Dana

Sometimes, when reading other perfume reviews, a humbling realization strikes in which it becomes clear that a life experience that felt unique or authentic is, in fact, quite common. Chantilly was worn by my grandmother. She would douse herself in about 50 sprays during special occasions—i. e., anytime we would visit—and then toddle around the house doing all of those wonderful grandma things.

As a child, I never understood that we were not “well off” and part of the reason for this was that my grandparents would spend the whole year saving up for Christmas to ensure that the whole family would feel special and cared for. My grandmother spent very little on herself, but she took pride in her appearance by applying makeup to her miraculously wrinkle-free skin and regularly covering her gray hair with dark brown dye from a box. She carried herself with dignity in spite of the polyester dresses and rough southern Italian accent.

As others have pointed out, the affordable Chantilly is several classics rolled into one without coming across as cheap or derivative. It opens with a heavy dose of aldehydes and lemon balanced with a sweet, spicy vanilla musk. The development on my skin, however, is disjointed as the aldehydes remain jagged and piercing next to the sweet oriental base. The lemon curdles the cloying cream as the composition falls apart.

14th August, 2016

Chloé (new) by Chloé

I have a tough time with rose fragrances. A touch of rose or rose smoothly blended into the rest of the composition is one thing, but a straight-up, punch-you-in-the-face rose bomb is a nightmare. So, I must admit, I’ve sniffed Chloe EDP in the past, but I never really took the time to try it on for an extended period of time because, well, I’d have to smell it. But after recently acquiring a sample I decided to face my rose-a-phobia and wear the EDP for an entire day. The opening is soap with a juicy fruit note that is supposed to be litchi. The rose is bright, full of acid and slightly honeyed. The sharpness of the acidity is complimented by an almost metallic edge that slices through the sweetness and a green-herbal character keeps everything from turning into a juice box. It’s perfectly balanced like a good wine: the sweetness, acidity, and herbal accords strike a perfect harmony. Unlike most fragrances boasting a bright, tangy opening, Chloe preserves the tartness well into the drydown. Best of all, there is something truly universal about Chloe—it smells appropriate from 15 to 95.

Chloe has changed me for the better and next time I am at the perfume counter, I will reach for the rose fragrance with the same upbeat attitude typically reserved for white florals, woody orientals, and incense.

29th December, 2015

Putain des Palaces by Etat Libre d'Orange

Given the onslaught of oud-based fragrances launched over the past few years, one could conclude that any perfume house that jumps on the bandwagon might be considered basic or derivative. Etat Libre d'Orange has proven time and time again that they do not want to be one of the popular kids—oud might as well be a pair of Uggs worn with yoga pants and it is best to avoid at all cost. But then I sniffed Putain des Palaces and realized that “animal notes” is a euphemism for oud notes. That’s right, our charming PdP is a benzoin bomb with a dash of oud and a sprinkle of rose and violet. The “animal notes” stick around for about an hour and then the whole composition mellows down to a sweet, cozy amber that is anything but naughty. So yes, PdP is a textbook amber-oud marketed to women, but in the end, it won me over because it smells dang good.

25th December, 2015

Tilda Swinton Like This by Etat Libre d'Orange

For me, Tilda Swinton Like This by Etat Libre d'Orange began as a fantasy and ended in disappointment. Before sniffing the award winning EDP, I had high expectations, especially after reading the positive reviews.

During my childhood, the Christmas holiday was spent in a typical family crowd infused with various pleasant and not so pleasant smells. I remember cigarette smoke, alcohol drenched exhales, a tower of cookies, grandma’s lasagna, fart, and holiday-themed scented candles. The candles were typically placed in the restroom next to the floral hand soap. I remember how the fragrance from the candles would fill the entire house and intermingle with the stale ash trays and food. After a couple of hours, the candles would become overbearing, almost nauseating—being stuffed full of sausage bread and squid didn’t help the situation. A visit to the restroom was an intense olfactory event composed of “pumpkin pie” and “spring meadow”.

Those visits to the restroom were Like This: great idea; poor execution. 2.5/5
24th December, 2015

Hedonist by Viktoria Minya

Hedonist by Viktoria Minya is all about osmanthus (tea olive) blossom. The gorgeous Osmanthus is surrounded by her entourage—a group of pretty, yet supportive notes that compliment and accentuate. She throws a backyard party in her name, inviting, Peaches, Orange Blossom, and Vanilla. Rum cake is served. As the evening progresses, however, the guests remain rather subdued, practicing an innocent giddiness akin to an eight-year-old tea party. This is probably because Peaches—the sweet, yet domineering creature—rations the rum, only permits smoking in the back of the garden, and chides Jasmine for showing up late. Even Orange Blossom keeps her clothes on and refrains from dancing on the table. But, in spite of a general lack debauchery, and for that matter, serious hedonism, a jolly good time is had by all.

08th August, 2015

Joy Forever Eau de Toilette by Jean Patou

Joy Forever Eau de Toilette by Jean Patou is a rose-infused musk that ends up being safe, soapy, and forgettable. This flanker exhibits a bright, pretty rose similar to the one found in the original Joy, but it lacks anything of interest that would set it apart from other contemporary rose fragrances. So, here we have a generic rose with a formidable price tag. The bottle is pretty and the performance is decent for an EDT, but I’m still not persuaded. I can think of other rose-infused musks that smell better and cost less, for example, Chloe EDP and flankers, Musc Intense by Nicolai Parfumeur Createur, and Narciso Rodriguez for Her Eau de Parfum.

01st August, 2015 (last edited: 02nd August, 2015)

Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra by Guerlain

Teazzurra by Guerlain opens with a bright splash of citrus (lime zest), a soft jasmine note, and what I can only describe as a green musk. The yuzu is quite noticeable and plays out as a combination of grapefruit and pineapple. The green tea accord slides into view along with a large dose of aquatic musk as the pleasant fruity-floral aspect fades. I do not like this musk at all. To be fair, ‘calone’ is listed as one of the notes and this could be taken as a warning or perhaps a cheeky apology.

Although I wanted to scrub Teazzurra about five minutes after spraying, I suffered through three hours of wear along with some additional sprays to re-examine the opening and decide if this is a sideways thumb or a ‘thumbs down’. Most of the time, if I dislike a fragrance, I try to examine why I don’t like it and sort out if it is just a matter of personal taste or if the fragrance truly is lame. Here is my list of complaints:

1) The aquatic musk smells really terrible—almost headache inducing. This is a matter of personal taste—doesn’t count.
2) The fragrance is a little ‘top loaded’. It smells great when sprayed on paper—the yuzu, floral, and musk strike a pretty harmony—but it falls apart on the skin. But, it could be worse given that the green tea sticks around for at least an hour, so in that respect it is a moderate fail, not a complete fail.
3) The originality just isn’t there. One can easily find a variety of affordable light tea fragrances, so this just makes me think that Guerlain (LVMH) is finding a lucrative niche and cashing in. Duh.

Complaint number 3 is just too big to ignore.

01st August, 2015

Nirmala by Molinard

This is a review of the Nirmala EDT that I recently purchased in the Molinard shop located in Nice.

Nirmala opens with a splash of grapefruit and quickly transitions to a tropical fruit explosion with a strange chloride note. Sometimes the bleach morphs into cumin, making this fruity floral a slightly sweaty affair. What is interesting about Nirmala is that it smells like it is pretending to be fruity patchouli. I compared it to Angel and discovered that the 1992 classic had more green patchouli and not as much sweat as the 1955 classic. So we have bleach plus cumin plus super obnoxious fruit plus a jasmine note that I’m not very pumped about plus some creepy “pretend” patchouli. I should hate this. I should be scrubbing it off right now, but I’m not. Nose meet arm. Nose meet arm again. And again.

My only complaint is that the performance isn’t that great, but maybe the EDP delivers?

Fans of contemporary fruity patchouli fragrances should check out Nirmala—this could be your classic!

28th July, 2015

Cape Heartache by Imaginary Authors

As a fragrance psycho, I expect perfumes to display a certain level of complexity or even intrigue, and typically, the specimens that fail to engage me intellectually are often viewed as inferior. On the other hand, the freaks are not always the easiest to wear—for example, I admire Womanity but, would rather wear Premier Figuier when I’m craving fig. Cape Heartache is definitely not one of the intelligent oddities. In fact, the fragrance is so simple and densely packed, that it never unfurls—I just can’t get in there and explore the 4D architecture because there isn’t one. But, here is the kicker: it smells really good. This is because Josh Meyer tapped into something that I (and other reviewers) attribute to childhood nostalgia. As a child I played in the pine forest, nibbling wild strawberries as I rolled around in the dirt and moss. So, of course, CH just makes me smile.

I have a shampoo that smells quite a bit like CH.
26th July, 2015

No. 18 Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Chanel 18 wasn’t love at first sniff, but it was definitely intrigue at first sniff. Initially, I dismissed No. 18 as cold fruity-floral that seemed somewhat mature. Why was my nose glued to my wrist? Mature fruity-florals are typically not my thing—and was I smelling rose? Then it became a mystery and I was the obsessive detective, completely fascinated and ready to neglect my family and even kill if I had to. I kept spraying and snorting, spraying and snorting. WHAT IS THIS? Acid. Olive. Rose. Shakespearean musk. Powdery, yet green and tart. Retro, yet strangely accessible. Familiar, yet perplexing. I could wear this. This could be my formal perfume, my big girl perfume.

5/5, but really 4/5 because of poor performance
26th July, 2015

White Patchouli by Tom Ford

White Patchouli by Tom Ford has been criticized for being too sterile and for drying down to laundry detergent. While, I do not entirely disagree with this—yes, the patchouli is cleaned-up, and yes the musk is a little like laundry detergent—the fragrance somehow holds its own among all of the other designer fruity patchouli offerings. Instead of a heavy dose of benzoin, tonka, or candy, this patchouli is balanced by white florals—the best example of this can be found in Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums, which is a take no prisoners type of fragrance. WP, on the other hand, is an approachable option for people who want a patchouli fragrance but are not looking for candy. I can’t think of many other fragrances that provide this option. Pleasures by EL has an army of flankers and it’s too bad one of them doesn’t feature a large dose of patchouli (sans candy) because, as WP has demonstrated, it actually does work.


PS—If you really like the opening of WP, but are disappointed by the dry down, try applying a little coconut oil to your skin before applying. Spraying on hair and clothing can also help.
26th July, 2015

Premier Figuier Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Premier Figuier Extreme by L`Artisan Parfumeur was initially a disappointment because all I could smell was the lactonic sandalwood found in Bios Farine. The coconut-covered fig was screaming for help and the whole thing was becoming a little mushy; it just didn’t lift off the skin the way I imagined it would. It is true--PFE is lacking acidity and I can’t detect a fluttering floral note to save my life. I think that the problem is that after smelling the bombastic Technicolor creature known as Womanity, I expected the fig to punch me in the face and take over my soul. Unfortunately, I am not able to wear Womanity because the salty aquatic note turns into terrible cheese on my skin. So, as a fig lover, I am happy to wear PFE because it smells good and gives me a fig fix—it’s just a soft, sweet oriental that wears close to the skin, not a woody aromatic that leaves a bright green trail.

This makes me wonder about where the true innovation lies. Is it with the original 1994 PF or with the 2010 creature known as Womanity? Like it or not, Womanity is a memorable experience while PF seems understated and almost meek.

26th July, 2015

Impossible Iris by Ramon Monegal

Impossible Iris by Ramon Monegal features an iris note that is similar to the one found in Terre d'Iris by Miller Harris. I enjoy both fragrances quite a bit; in fact, this is my favorite RM fragrance so far—it’s a wet, green, iris with a large dose of sweet mimosa that smells of the highest quality shampoo. I decided to run a comparison and applied II to one arm and TdI to the other. Then I asked the dear Hubs to sniff each arm and tell me which he preferred. (The dear Hubs is a “(-)fragrance fan”.) He chose II, so I immediately put TdI on my full bottle list.

21st July, 2015

Terre d'Iris by Miller Harris

Terre d'Iris by Miller Harris is a woody iris that oscillates between shower-fresh and earthy forest. Worn by both Titania and Oberon, TdI was created by the forest itself from spring rain, roots, herbs, moss, and pixie dust.

One thing that I really enjoy about MH perfumes is that although most of the notes are ‘natural’, the end result is a proper perfume that is more than the sum of its parts. TdI is (literally) down to earth enough to wear casually, yet deceptively complex—powdery while green and alive. Just gorgeous.

20th July, 2015