Perfume Reviews

Reviews by AlHamr

Total Reviews: 16
AlHamr Show all reviews
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Kölnisch Wasser by Farina Gegenüber

OK, so I go hold of a bottle recently after being seized by a revived interest in Eaux as I'm about to ship off to somewhere hot and sticky for a year.

In a genre filled with forgettable interpretations, Farina does not stand out. Pleasant enough soft citrus floral opening followed rapidly by a baby vomit musk dry down. It's definitely preferable to the lime-grater that is 4711, but not by enough to justify the price tag. If you're in that bracket looking for an eau de Cologne, go to Guerlain or Atelier.
27th January, 2018
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Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford

Neroli Plastiscino…
15th May, 2015
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Eau du Sud by Annick Goutal

Wonderfully individualist take on a grand classical theme

I tried this for the first time today and found myself wondering where it had been all my life.

Its first citrus bang, with a touch of Basil and jasmine, is strongly reminiscent of Eau Sauvage but, where ES takes the lemon mousse and hedione-drenched main drag, Eau du Sud winds around the enchanting side roads through terraces of rosemary, lavender and jasmine. There's something truly intriguing and refined about this dewy herbal floral take on a classic theme.

Superb spring/summer scent which rejuvenated the year for me on a sluggish autumn day.

Cons: None whatsoever"

23rd September, 2013
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parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Avignon by Comme des Garçons

Not the church I was looking for.

I'm sure I reviewed this before. It may have got lost in the website move.

Anyway, Avignon has not been the end of my quest for an incense that actually captures the vertical, etherial qualities of burning frankinsence (which I don't actually associate with the Catholic mass as it's not in my personal history). I'm afraid I may be looking for the impossible.

Yes, it is churchy, but for me it's less of a cathedral and more of a modern church with cheap carpets and a dwindling congregation. The incense is certainly there, together with a certain mustiness, but the feeling of height, space and the soaring trajectories of stone arches are wholly absent; rather the walls are finished in plaster board and painted in magnolia. The beeswax on the pews has been recently applied by a pleasant but somewhat pedestrian verger. And the sweetness is overpowering.

This is less the Avignon of the Western Schism, more the Basingstoke of the protestant one, and reminds me of Eddie Izzard's take on the improbability of Church of England fundamentalism: "You must have tea and cake with the vicar or you DIE!"; "CAKE OR DEATH?!"

19th September, 2013
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parfums*PARFUMS Series 4 Cologne: Vettiveru by Comme des Garçons

Fresh-ish woody vetiver with a huge dose of iso e

The opening promises more than the drydown can deliver and is quite etherial. This starts off smelling like a fairly light, subtle, classic vetiver, with some skin, some salt and a hint of florality, but quickly reveals itself as a lighter, fresher version of Encre Noir, the commonality being provided by a similarly heavy dose of Iso E Super. But it's not a fresh as I'd like it to be and that freshness pretty much vanishes as the Iso E takes over, about half an hour after application. Not bad, but to me this strategy is like covering a fine woodcarving in polyurethane varnish. It gives it shine and smoothness (and longevity) but drowns out any of the interesting points in a flood of glossy satin. Another analogy would be like living life on particuarly strong sedatives. I have a strong suspicion this overdose is one of the reasons both EN and this are relatively inexpensive.

Pros: Interesting, intriguing opening; cheap but not as cheap as it should be
Cons: Long mogadon drydown.

07th July, 2013
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Royall Vetiver by Royall Lyme of Bermuda

A decent, workhorse vetiver

Quite comparable to Guerlain's. It doesn't have the refinement, or the sparkle in the citrus top and the drydown is a little too sweet, but there's something quite attractive in its blunt, woody saltiness. It's a bit of rough with the deckhand on a subleached jetty, as compared to Guerlain's sometimes (depending on the mood) overly effete linen-clad yachting type.

Pros: Rough - in a good way. Cheap.

05th July, 2013
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Vétiver Extraordinaire by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Extraordinary. Earthy. A vetiver heavyweight. Highest proportion of vetiver essential oil.

I have no idea about the latter but, for me, this is none of the first three. It's is like no other vetiver I've smelled, and I really struggle to find any clear vetiver statement anywhere apart from fleetingly around five minutes after application. If anything, for me, it's a rather transparent skin scent which, strangely, puts me in mind of Isabelle Doyen's L'Antimatiere; admittedly a strange comparison for something which gets the sort of press VE does.

The first burst is a quite sharp but hesperidic affair towards the mandarin/bergamot/bigarade end of the citrus spectrum. The citrus is pronounced but quite colourless, if that makes sense - less an orange tinge, more a heat shimmer. This is soon replaced by pencil shavings - that cedar and charcoal edge which is the most distinctive note in the whole, fairly indistinct, evolution. This is where the vetiver sits, but it rapidly melds into an ambery skin scent which sits very close to the skin but becomes more and more the main show. Strangely I still pick up a vague hint of orange oil of some kind here.

At first I'd thought longevity was poor, but this was because I was looking for the wrong thing. Actually the amber-musk, while pretty low profile, lasts most of the day and could, if the wearer were so inclined, work as quite a distinctive "signature" - at close quarters.

For me, none of these various accords seem to me to really work together. It's interesting, intriguing even, but not something I would get attached to. However, while it doesn't suit me, I'd say to people rejecting it on first sniff, it really needs the whole course of a wearing and multiple wearing evaluate. I certainly see this differently than I did when I first tried it.

08th May, 2013
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Route du Vétiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

I’ve been nervous to review Route du Vetiver. It’s one of my most treasured scents though not one I’d bring out every day. Oh_Hedgehog’s review (below) hits the spot perfectly: “smells like damp soil, musky blackcurrants, rotting leaves and projects a malignant disdain for company”. I particularly like that last phrase, and I love RdV for all the reasons he hates it.

Route du Vetiver is a heady, powerful and dark concoction which plays up the woody, damp, moist and green aspects of vetiver. Its uncompromisingly astringent, woody opening is paired with an inspired blackcurrant note which does nothing to sweeten the mix, rather adding a certain moist, plummy roundness and the slightly poisonous, vegetal note I usually associate with nightshade. It blends beautifully with the more stern, woody elements. A floral hint makes itself felt later, but ads to the general wooziness rather than lifting the mood.

Given this complexity, it’s a remarkably linear scent, retaining all these facets for pretty much the entire length of the dry-down – and it lasts. It can feel overpowering to the wearer and I would only use it in cold weather, but, worn sparingly, it doesn’t seem to project to levels that would offend the neighbours.

Some comparison is useful with the other oft-cited vetiver “heavy-hitter”. Where Villoresi vetiver is dry, rounded and warm, Route du Vetiver is damp and claggy. It’s the sunbaked earth of Italy versus the damp, dark clay of the deciduous northern forest in winter.

This is a winter scent par excellence and speaks of life lying dormant underground. It perfectly complements the sharp, damp tang of snow in the air. Or, it has all the disturbing vegetal power of the thaw, of awakening roots and first buds poking their way back into the world. When TS Elliot wrote the first few lines of the Waste Land, I like to imagine he was wearing Route du Vetiver.
16th February, 2013
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Piper Nigrum by Lorenzo Villoresi

Ew is the first word that comes into my head. Unoriginal, but unavoidable.

I get an initial waft of pepper, anise, peppermint and powder with a potpourri spice-rose feel.

Then I get a more sweet wood accord coming out. Still powdery. The whole makes for a choking, headache-precipitating, greeny-purple, fuggy haze.

Then I get in the shower.

Black pepper - such a nice idea in principle, so almost universally objectionable in execution. Really, how do you do this note without screaming "young buck on a night out"?

14th February, 2013
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Acqua di Colonia by Lorenzo Villoresi

Villoresi Acqua di Colonia

Bright, classical citrus opening. Then lavender starts to show. Mid dry-down becomes somewhat floral and very reminiscent of Czech & Speake Neroli with the soapiness accentuated by the rosemary, which becomes more and more prominent and fades progressively into a soapy, herbal musk. This stage may be a little too close to Cif powder for my liking but makes for an engaging whole.

Another Eau de Cologne with a bit more to say. I’m tempted by the herbal character, but won’t buy unless it grows on me more as its distinctiveness only really shows itself towards the end of its evolution. For the fresh, dirty floral facet of its character I already have C&S Neroli.

Edit: scratch that, the herby character, and particularly the rosemary, have me hooked. I'm in!
11th February, 2013 (last edited: 08th May, 2013)
AlHamr Show all reviews
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Neroli by Czech & Speake

I'm getting fonder and fonder of this. It's fantastic for hot climes, to beat the oppressive humidity that stops you getting going in the morning, and for a quick spritz during the day.

Despite its fresh, citrusy bitterness, it doesn't fall into classic barbershop territory. The floral note is too pronounced and etherial for that and it packs real depth and a touch of dirtyness, which come from the cumin and animalic notes.

Linear and not a long laster, but a great performer when you want something floral but still very masculine.
16th November, 2012
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Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris

Strange. I don't find this weak or un-tobaccoey as recent reviewers have commented. This to me is definitely a tobacco fume. But way, way too sweet. There's powder and some cloves but overall this sweet leaf tobacco that just cloys the back of my throat out. THis also seems very strong to me - to the point I just couldn't understand how anyone could wear something like this.

An olfactory cliche which was better done by Old Spice. In fact, can anyone point me out the difference between these two?
13th November, 2012 (last edited: 14th November, 2012)
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Habit Rouge by Guerlain

I find this highly unpleasant but oddly reminiscent of something that's very difficult to pinpoint.

It definitely smells middle aged. It puts me in mind of a slightly heavy frenchman* driving a citroen with two shirt buttons undone, the better to allow the cloyingly powdery sillage to diffuse and offend his hapless passengers. He's a smoker, but he's not smoking right now. The windows are rolled up and I'm gasping for air on the over-cushioned, over-suspended back seat.

And then recently I sniffed some again, trying (unsuccessfully) to like it, and it dawned on me what it reminds me of. It's the smoke they used to pump out on night club dance floors in the early '90s (when I last frequented night clubs). As cloyingly sweet, chokingly powdery, suffocatingly tobacco-ey as an unwanted amorous advance.

Either way, this is one I would try to avoid, in a bottle or on a human.

*Please forgive any tangential reference to national stereotypes. I think this scene is linked to a very hazily recollected childhood memory.
12th November, 2012 (last edited: 14th November, 2012)
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Vetyver by Jo Malone

Very like Guerlain Vetiver but less complex and interesting and a little more sweet and creamy. A very green opening with something a little dirty underneath in the dry down, reminiscent of sweat or charcoal.

Perfectly pleasant but underwhelming, as are both its sillage and longevity. I'll stick to my all time favourite Guerlain.
12th November, 2012 (last edited: 13th November, 2012)
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Vetiver by Etro

Etro Vetiver EDC

A woodsy vetiver with a strong opening but a pretty subtle, even thin, dry down. This gave me an interesting lesson in skin chemistry. I got the missus to try it first and the woods (ostensibly cedar and cypress) on her are sweet and smooth - I could have sworn sandalwood. On me on the other hand they're much more tannic and harsh. Not necessarily in a bad way, but a real astringency that just doesn't seem to surface on her skin. After the initial alchoholic and slightly medicinal opening it was like licking a freshly roughsawn oak board.

That said, there is something tantalising about the way these austere woods blend with the supportive cradle of vetiver. The vetiver isn't always very perceptible but it's always there subliminally and becomes more clear in the drydown. It's almost architectural, with the woods providing a soaring, vertical element and the vetiver fleshing it out with a supportive and soft base.

The problem for me was that this dry down, with the EDC version at least, was very short lived. I'm hoping the EDT I aim to track down on my next trip to London will be a little more full and a little longer lived.

Initially, the thinness and lack of endurance would have made me tend to a neutral review, but hey, it's only a Cologne and there's something very moreish here that I find myself coming back to pretty often. It needs a liberal application on me though, and that, given Etro's prices, is not a very economic prospect.

Still, thumbs up.
16th August, 2012 (last edited: 17th August, 2012)
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Turtle Vetiver Front by LesNez

Oh yeah, what a ride!

But for something that starts with such a bang, it settles down very quickly very close to the skin and longevity is disappointing on me. I think this might be because it really is not much else but vetiver. At very close quarters it does linger almost imperceptibly though, but for something with such a big opening it feels like a bit of an anticlimax.

My quest for the perfect vetiver continues. For everyday I'll keep the Guerlain, but for sheer (albeit short-lived) earthy pungency and authenticity, Turtle wins.
25th July, 2012 (last edited: 02nd August, 2012)