Perfume Reviews

Reviews by deadidol

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Total Reviews: 387

Memento Mori by Aftelier

If youíve read any of my other reviews, youíre probably aware that I favor the weird and the challenging. While this isnít the place to justify my rationale, I will say that Iím not into weird for weirdís sake; I come at perfume from two angles: the functional and the experiential. While the former is the norm (a scent you wear in a traditional manner), the latter (a scent you study and explore as a discrete aesthetic) is usually where I turn for innovation or drama. Innovation, by nature, should be discomforting in some way as itís about change, but innovation must also be coherent and make sense. Aftelierís recent Memento Mori falls squarely into this category and excels at the effect it produces.

Iíve never had the opportunity to try any of Mandy Aftelís perfumes mainly due to availability and cost, but I was able to get my nose on a fellow perfume writerís sample. A tiny dab to the back of my hand kept me engrossed for hours, and while sniffing other scents throughout the night, I kept returning to the spot where I applied it ó the mark of an intriguing composition. Be warned: this is a difficult scent, but itís also quite heartrending. It opens with visceral ripe cheese note, breaking away about twenty minutes later into a fleshy mix of clean sweat, salty butter, and semi-sweet decomposition. Throughout, thereís a steady cardboard-like impression that sometimes stems from iris as well as an incidental floral note to keep things from going too dark. The scentís as mesmerizing as it is disturbing. Itís not just carnal; itís animalic but in an atavistic, primitive manner. While it pushes the envelope in ways you canít really prepare yourself for, every aspect of it feels calculated, intentional, and curiously comforting. Itís long lasting and hums with low sillage, but scents like this really arenít about traditional metrics. Memento Mori is compulsory for anyone interested in what scents can accomplish beyond the realm of perfume niceties. A great introduction to a line Iíve been curious to check out for some time, and this is one Iíll be seeking out in some capacity or another to smell again as I canít get it out of my mind.
15th January, 2017

Kimonanthe by Diptyque

Kimonanthe is Diptyque at both its best and its worst. On the one hand, this is the most compelling scent theyíve issued in years; on the other, it exemplifies the age-old department store trick of the shiny facade with questionable substance. This scent smells fantastic for the first hour or so but a tad generic after that. What it comes down to is the fact that Diptyque is a mass-production brand with wide distribution, so using materials of notable character or quality is out of the question. What the brand does well, though, is invest their budget in perfumers who know how to make the most out of basic synthetics like ambroxan (that powered their previous release) and the sandalwood synths that dominate this one. The 34 Collection ó supposedly the up-scale scents of the line ó are simply tossing in a mid-tier natural here and there, cranking the concentration from Ďweakí to Ďacceptable,í and using that as justification to market the scent as something itís not. I own a few Diptyque bottles and for as well-blended as they are, they tend to fall short in other critical areas.

Having said all that, this one is worth your time, even if itís just for the first couple of hours that itís on your skin. Itís an encapsulating smoky tea scent with a milky apricot thread running throughout. It smells scarily close to Slumberhouseís Jeke, only less punishing and without any of the natural absolutes that make Jeke such a wall. It also riffs on Kiste by the same brand, borrowing the metallic tea accord quite literally. The main difference is that Jekeís clove note is missing, replaced instead with an osmanthus accord that reads as somewhat peach-like (the Kiste similarity). The effect is that for a couple of hours, Kimonanthe is a monolithic, smoky, fascinating tea perfume with hints of an oriental structure. It smells great upfront: unique (unless youíve smelled the Slumberhouse scents its riffing on), balanced, and comforting. Whatís disappointing ó but understandable given the mass-produced nature of the brand ó is that the remainder of the ride is entry-level stuff: a well-constructed but mundane synthetic woody amber with a touch of earthy patchouli and cedar. Once Iíd smelled the base, I couldnít not detect it in the opening when reapplying. For fans of Osmanthe Yunnan looking for something more bodied, this is very different ó itís far more opaque and more about smokey tea than glassy apricot. However, for those who found Jeke to be a bit too claustrophobic, this offers a more commercial alternative.
26th October, 2016

Noble VII Rock Rose by Clive Christian

This stuffís dumber than hair but easy to like. Whatís hilarious about it is that it smells like a merger of several bro-cheapies ó a mashup of the original Varvatos, CK Shock / Euphoria, and at least one of the Zara scents too (the one that knocked of 1 Million) that morph into the same sickly-sweet base used in Armani's diabetes-inducing Myrrhe Impťriale. Although I havenít smelled the Varvatos or the CK scents in some time, they represent a fragrance ďtypeĒ ó which is exactly the mode this is working in, for a laughable $550. The scent: slightly fruity, tobacco-infused, bro-amber cut with a manly-man floral bouquet (GITís violet leaf, basically). Given the perfume's name, there's not much in the way of labdanum. Sugary, plump, blurred ó pleasant enough but low-IQ. If it were priced around $70, Iíd consider it an appealing albeit redundant contribution to saccharine masculines. At this price point, itís a joke but one thatís consistent with the brandís usual vulgarity. Cheap yet expensive.
24th October, 2016 (last edited: 25th October, 2016)
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BaptÍme du Feu by Serge Lutens

While I think Serge still has some major cleaning up to do following the utter mess he's made over the last few years, there's a faint echo of the line's apex here. Some of the weird, winey, fruity, woody-gourmands like Chene and Chergui are mirrored here, but it's closer to Xerjoff's Red Hoba than anything ó only several decibels lower. For the first ten minutes it smells like chewy cinnamon candy ó a touch mentholated for ventilation (think red vines, only less saccharine and more rich). A slight cosmetic floral effect is mapped onto a tame cashmeran for a creamy, velvety texture. After the opening fades away (very fast, unfortunately), that's really what you're left with: a savory take on cinnamon candy masquerading as a plush albeit diaphanous fabric. While it does get your attention, it doesn't hold it for long.
01st October, 2016

Myths Woman by Amouage

Amouage jumped the shark when their shift from Eastern to Western style devolved into pandering to popular tastes. Myths Woman, however, is somewhat of a return to form in that the brandís produced a scent thatís pensive, stony, and not stuffed with cookie dough / caramel. The opening is violet leaf ó a material that, when untamed, smells metallic bordering on medicinal. Here itís teamed with a great leathery ash accord and bulked up with vague fatty florals that read more as an oily, rapeseed than anything youíd stick in a vase. In time, the leather broadens and spreads, but itís more car seat leather than biker jacket thatís cut with a touch of cardboardy iris, hinting at cosmetics without ever really going all the way. The result is a slithery, silvery-emerald kind of tone ó one thatís scaled back and pleasingly subdued.

While I found Myths Man to be unspeakably bad (imagine how a snickers bar dipped in Aramis might taste and youíd be in the right ballpark), Myths Woman recalls the dark badassery of Memoir Man, softens it a touch via Opus VII (without the galbanum overdose), and ends in a great resting stare of indifference thatís in the same general vicinity as Narciso Rodriguez PH. And while this is one of the more gripping Amouages as of late, it doesnít strike me as particularly lush nor is violet leaf a particularly spendy material as a little goes a long way (check out Masqueís LíAttesa if you want a richer, fuller scent with a similar feel). Therefore, Iíd suggest that if this is your thing, give it six months and grab it at a fraction of the price when it inevitably ends up on fragrancenet. A solid release ó at least for Amouage circa 2016.
20th September, 2016

New Sibet by Slumberhouse

Following the easy appeal of Kiste, New Sibet suggests a return to the strange and challenging aesthetic often associated with the brand in a way that underscores increasingly refined technical skills. As is the standard with this line, the scent is unprecedented. And, as with all things genuinely original, itís unsettling at first sniff. This is a brand that cannot be assessed via paper strips or drive-by sniffs of the cap; theyíre scents that have to be worn and lived in ó even if they make you uncomfortable. New Sibet is perhaps the best example of this.

A few weeks ago I was traveling across the US and found myself driving through the country roads of the American Midwestís Corn Belt. Because Iíve always lived in cities, getting out into the heartland is a treat for the senses. I drove with the windows down and the a/c off (even though the temperatures were soaring) just so I could take in the scent of passing fields and whatnot. While New Sibet doesnít smell like fields of corn per se, the impression that it gives me is along the same lines ó that of a dusty, dry atmosphere buzzing over a huge open space.

I suspect that this scent will be contentious as itís such a unique, tonal smell ó not one that hits you hard with obvious nostalgia (Sova), high drama (Zahd), or easy comfort (Kiste). In fact, itís discomforting at first ó like getting lost in an arid, open, alien landscape. Itís cerebral, sophisticated, packed with subtleties, but the initial impression I get upfront is of sandy / beige colored leather ó perhaps a vintage leather jacket done in a western style. The leather is wrapped around scorched florals and a buttery musk that splits the difference between skin, hair, and baked earth. If thereís a hay-like feel to it at all, it would be dry, clean hay. What is extraordinary, though, is how dovetailed these notes are. I could never say ďthis is a leather scentĒ even though leather is clearly present (Iíd peg the genre as somewhere between leather, woody-oriental, and chypre, but itís a scent that debunks the very concept of genre classification). If anything, Iíd be inclined to say that itís a sandalwood-based scent as thereís a distinct bubble of buttery-rich blonde woods and mysore carrying the low end. It smells ambient, like the air of a space in which multiple scents intertwine but without any muddiness whatsoever. Unlike Slumberhouse releases of the past, thereís no wall-of-scent going on here ó nothing syrupy, goopy, or particularly dark / aggressive; itís open, spacious, and very dry. If Mare was the scent of a depopulated world in which vegetation retook ownership, this is a similarly desolate space, only without the green, damp vegetation. Itís dusty, barren, distant ó yet calming once you dial into it. It does smell like a thing from the past, but not quite a vintage perfume (even though there seems to be a considerable vintage influence at work). If thereís a genealogy to the brand at all (despite his obvious knack for decoupling himself from anything heís done before), Iíd situate this as an estranged cousin, several times removed, from either Sova or Sana (Une Fleur de Cassie and LíAir de Rien come to mind as well). Although I think it might divide fans of the older style, I suspect that New Sibet will draw a new audience of its own. More unexpected than anything heís released as of late, but I think thatís why people flock to the brand in the first place as Slumberhouse remains one of very few lines that is actually innovating and is way ahead of its time.
02nd September, 2016

Oudh Infini by Parfums Dusita

I havenít been writing about scent as of late because Iím swamped with other writing projects. Also, several new releases Iíve tried have failed to pull me away for long enough to put fingers to keyboard. Iím coming out of hibernation, as it were, to say a few words about Oudh Infini which has more than impressed me. I tried the Dusita line a few weeks ago and found all three to be accomplished, but Oudh Infini was the one most closely aligned to my tastes and it took a few wears for it to click. The very mention of ďoudĒ in new releases warrants massive eye rolling from me these days so this scent had to work hard to win my favor. Long story short, itís handsomely spun, performs immaculately, and sidesteps the clichť and redundancy of what is a hideously hackneyed genre.

It begins with a ripe, cheesy oud thatís immediately countered by a rose-driven bouquet. The oudh has none of the rubbery harshness of replacers; playing the antagonist it smells full-bodied and leathery without relying on extremes. The rose as protagonist is prismatic and glossy ó brittle, moist, and faintly tangy with nothing jagged or thorny remaining. Throughout, both notes maintain their character with neither dominating nor submitting to the otherís authority. The tension between the two is the trick that keeps the scent from plummeting into clichť. And this tension is upheld for much of the scentís life ó an impressive feat as usually one of the notes will end up outshining the other. While it is absolutely a ďbarnyardĒ scent, itís so well wrought that any anxiety over animalics should be soundly dismissed. The oud and the rose are foregrounded squarely, yet each is flanked by additional components so subtly blended youíd be hard pressed to name them. The base is a stage of creamy resins with a delicate leathery tone; its purpose: to scaffold and spotlight the main performance. The arrangement isnít particularly complex, but the components used are rich, stressing the perfumerís thoughtful use of space and pause. A lesser perfumer might have thrown in ill-conceived minor characters, but that would have diverted attention.

Oudh Infini is reading from a familiar script, but itís one of the better versions of this style of perfume that Iíve smelled. Fans of the more audacious offerings from brands like Xerjoff should take note, but thereís a level of artisanal creativity at work here thatís absent in the corporately-driven productions. The sense of balance and proportion is what makes Oudh Infini a success. Thereís a pricey ticket attached to this one ó a fact that thereís no getting around ó but I suspect that itís the kind of scent that will lead to all kinds of creative rationalizing of purse strings if this style is your thing. You have been warned.
26th August, 2016

Midnight Violet by Ava Luxe

Midnight Violet is a unicorn scent ó long discontinued due to the loss of a key component and rendered a real rarity in the stinkosphere as the result. What conversation does exist is mostly positive, and the scentís often name-dropped in ďbest of violetĒ lists with a sheepish ďgood luck finding anyĒ disclaimer attached. Those who do own a bottle (or even a vial it seems) keep it well guarded, but a friend was kind enough to send me a couple of ml so I could sniff what is supposed to be the holy grail violet.

To cut to the chase, it is very good, but itís also very indie ó meaning that it doesnít reflect some act of technical virtuosity. Furthermore, itís not a realistic depiction of violet, nor is the violet well lit. It is, however, a plush, ambery, earthy scent threaded through with a hyper-goth purple floral. Thereís a sharp green note up top, but it doesnít contribute much and appears to burn off right away. The ďvioletĒ doesnít smell like standard ionone-driven violets, leaning closer to chalky parma violets than anything cosmetic. Iíd consider it more of a violet conceit ó almost like a hushed version of Memoir Womanís floral incense. The accord is dark and durable, but itís hard to tell where the violet ends and the rest of the scent begins. What undergirds it is a base that hovers between an oriental and a vintage chypre ó a lot of moss, quite a bit of pencil-cedar (that shows up on paper but not skin), and a subliminal amber that I suspect contains actual ambergris. While the moss, cedar, and amber components are synced, they smother the floral too forcefully. Therefore, Iím not inclined to say that the scentís well balanced, but I think any imbalance is intentional in that itís a dark, earthy take on a violet thatís been buried six feet under. In that sense, it works very well.

But what stands out to me the most is the effect produced. The scent has a druggy, hypnotic feel to it ó a visceral quality that most likely stems from components that caused the scent to disappear. I suspect that thereís an authentic musk involved, some vanillic ambergris, or perhaps a generous dose of a heady, spendy floral fixatives. For as earthy as the moss spins it, the scent wears buoyantly and never feels oppressive. So, while I donít consider it to be the be-all end-all of violet perfumes simply because the violet is so muted, itís a delightfully histrionic affair ó the kind of scent that should probably come with its own fainting couch. For anyone mourning its loss, I would turn to Neil Morrisí Gotham (which is surprisingly similar in theme and effect) and Sonoma Scent Studioís Wood Violet (which, to me, smells like a rectified version of the same concept). What I love most about Midnight Violet is what I love most about well-done indie perfumery ó the bridging of perfume history with an arty sensibility and the clever use of beautiful, rare components. Although itís unlikely that Iíll find one, Iíll be keeping my nose to the ground for a full bottle.
06th June, 2016

Himalaya by Scriabin in the Himalayas

Sometimes a perfumerís interpretation of a brief is so spot-on that the intention is rendered unambiguous, yet it can also be tricky to keep a perfumeís name / imagery from shaping associations. The name Himalaya combined with the mountain image on the bottle spins this scent into bucolic territories. But even without the packaging clues it would succeed in communicating its message.

Tricky to summarize, this scent suspends clear, airy incense notes over soft, botanical musk. My guess is that itís chilled olibanum and moss elevated by a deft use of aldehydes. Woods are present, boosted by green-leaning spice notes, and thereís a hint of a white floral in which indole is bolstered by overripe castoreum. An hour or so in, it becomes a resin-driven amber that's ventilated with clove. Every aspect of the scent is understated, working more in gestalt to recreate the kind of environmental smell you might find on a hike. Its presence is striking given that itís not particularly dominant, and it reads more agrarian than clerical. Although there are contemporary strands present, it has a retro mustachioed feel as well. Not wildly original, but impeccably constructed and wholly enjoyable.
24th May, 2016

Dark Ride by Xyrena

Dark Ride was a finalist at this yearsí IAO Awards and, for me, it was the standout of the night. I grabbed a bottle soon after and, while waiting for it to arrive, I wondered if Iíd made a hideous mistake. The perfume claims to smell like a theme park water ride centered upon (among other industrial horrors) chlorine, but to me it splits the difference between a disinfected motel room and a urinal puck. While Iím sure this sounds horrifying, thereís something totally compelling about it.

Iíve been wearing it for the past couple of weeks and Iím surprised by how much Iím enjoying it. Although I canít quite figure out how it ticks, it doesnít seem overly complicated; thereís not a ton of development. However, thereís enough nuance to elevate it beyond schlock experimentation. It conjures up highly synthetic imagery: astroturf, air vents, and a dental spittoon with an electrical charge running through it. My guess is that thereís moss, a slice of maltol, and most likely a fistful of dimethyl hydroquinone ó a crystalline material that, when diluted, smells like a mix of grass and the afore-mentioned (clean) urinal.

The scent wears like a robotic version of Lushís Dirty; thereís an antiseptic, metallic quality to it but itís the touch of sweetness that balances it and makes it so amiable. Although the initial blast is unnerving, it dies down to what Iíd describe as carbonated disinfectant. Itís brisk and chilly and absolutely weird, but itís also cheery, fun, and surprisingly well done. Nobody should approach this scent expecting a technical masterpiece, and both the scent and over-the-top packaging underscore the irreverent nature of the brand, but Dark Rideís a great aura-style perfume thatís priced fairly and makes palatable a disgusting concept. Weird but weirdly wearable, and totally enjoyable. Itís one of the most unique scents Iíve smelled in some time.
22nd May, 2016

Royal Princess Oud by Creed

A bouquet of fruit and floral accords kicks off the hilariously named Royal Princess Oud (although Iíd contend the nameís no more ridiculous than others in the line). These accords are well done ó pastel in hue, but in not desaturated in a cliche wedding photography way. Vague berries merge with green stems, rose-ish things, jasmine, violets, all pounded into impressively compact arrangement. A marginal vanilla and a touch of spice forms the warp through which the florals are woven, and the final effect is subdued, refined, and genderless. Thereís a youthful freshness to it, but the lack of ostentation lends it classical appeal as well. (I personally found it to have more of a melancholic, autumnal vibe than that of a crisp spring or summer scent due to its more meditative nature. Also, at moments, it reminded me of the vanillic, semi-tropical fruit effect of CKís Obsession Night.)

As with Royal Oud, thereís not a lick of oud in it. Instead, thereís a soft cedar and musk base that, amusingly, smells a bit like the base from Aventus. In fact, the longer it was on my skin, the more connections to Aventus I made. It shares that same pseudo-musky glob that Aventus has, wavering between a spa-like smell and chalky deodorant. Although I struggled to shake the association, the base is perfectly functional and supports the opening for a good amount of time before taking the wheel. Obviously the name will have Creed-Bros clutching their pearls, but theyíd be well-advised to give this one a spin (after all, there are other perfumes in the ďmasculineĒ line-up that are just as floral if not more so.) While the name suggests something for a insufferable teen, thatís not what you get at all. Itís really more of a simple, yet well-done woody floral. Nothing particularly revolutionary, but thereís nothing gaudy or obnoxious either; itís Creed pulling their usual department store-but-better move to produce a light yet enduring violet and wood perfume thatís a touch tropical and pleasant from start to finish. With that said, the price is extortionate for what is ultimately designer+, but Iím guessing itíll be at the discounters in under a year.
10th January, 2016

After The Flood by Apoteker Tepe

One of the most compelling scent openings Iíve smelled in some time. Given the notes, this should smell somewhat disgusting, or at least fashionably unwearable ó but thatís not the case; its gorgeous. Itís mushroom, vetiver, and orris (according to my nose). It somehow manages to build a warm coziness into a dank, swampy feel, splitting the difference between Slumberhouseís difficult Mare and Amouageís Memoir Man. Itís not nearly as rancid as Mare, nor is it as mardy as Memoir Man, yet it has the same appeal as both ó earthy, grounded, and atypical. The mushroom is vivid, yet folded into the blend perfectly (think crisp, white, freshly rinsed raw mushrooms). The soil accord sidesteps the predictability of geosmin, and smells more like the soil effect in Sergeís De Profundis than the petrichor that belabors many of CBIHP's releases. The whole thing is spun the color of illuminated obsidian; rich without being too dense while smelling alive and present. The tragedy is that none of this lasts, and the scent winds its way down to a respectable yet far less interesting rooty accord which is where it stays for the rest of the wear. Iím almost inclined to forgive the performance (a concentration issue, Iím guessing) because the opening was so brilliantly rendered. However, I already own bottles of the much-coveted Mare and Memoir Man, so that goopy, swampy aspect of my collection is already filled. Despite the openingís collapse, Iíd still recommend that fragrance aficionados get their nose on this just for the nose-catching, standout opening. Hopefully the brand will tweak a few things in the future to make their ideas a tad more durable, but theyíve secured my attention with this release.
09th January, 2016

Moss Breches by Tom Ford

Rich and aftershave-y, this smashes a traditional chypre into a snazzy fougere. The problem is that both are rendered a bit cartoonish, lacking the sophistication usually found within either style. Moss Breches is bombastic; a blaring, shouty kind of a fragrance that's supercharged by a honeyed moss, a soft sage-y lavender, and a smattering of earthy, stemmy things. The textbook chypre-effect dominates but lacks any refinement, and the end result is a somewhat amiable yet gaudy car crash of Mitsouko and Invasion Barbare. Itís enjoyable for the first hour, but it borders on pantomime soon after.
08th January, 2016
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On The Road by Edition Perfumes

Although the scent wasnít really my style, the first release from this aesthetically-discriminating brand (She Came to Stay) was an excellent spicy floral. This release, sadly, is a huge let-down.

It goes on as a dirty, thin patchouli punctured by a bitter bergamot. Thereís a hint of something coniferous, but itís buried under a murky cloud of smoke that, frankly, smells far more like an error than an intended effect. After 15 minutes, the scent becomes a vaguely musky, garden-refuse kind of smell ó the kind of scent that might emit from someone lost in a forest for a week. Fans of Juniper Ridge might find some appeal here as the scent is extremely rough-hewn and rugged, although (to my nose), not in a good (or a particularly Kerouacian) way. You get 10 minutes of a ho-hum greenery/bergamot, another 10 minutes of a birch tar bomb, and the next 20 minutes are reserved for the accidental BO-type funk that ensues. Thereís nothing endearing or even remotely pleasant about it.

On top of this, I couldnít get the scent to last more than an hour. I wore it three times on both skin and fabric, and each time, it died at around the 45-minute point. Iím no stickler for longevity and I enjoy the engineered ephemerality of certain scents, but thatís not whatís going on here. The scent goes on very loud but starts losing volume immediately. All-natural perfumery is prone to poor performance, but the materials used in this are generally substantive, so something went wrong along the way with this one. Very disappointing from a line that has so much promise.
23rd December, 2015

Benjoin BohŤme by Diptyque

I was disappointed by this as Iím a fan of benzoin (although Iím wary of Diptyque). Plus, the scent has apparently sold out everywhere, which says something I guess. However, this is simply a textbook woody amber, albeit one that attenuates the synth aspects (to a degree) and cranks up the resinous warmth. There are three main components: your standard-fare synth sandalwood (javanol, sandalrome etc.), ethyl vanillin, and benzoin. Here, the benzoin is spun somewhat cinnamic, and the scent is pleasantly balanced throughout, but itís nothing more than a basic, synth-driven warm amber ó which is fine, but at this price point, itís questionable. It really smells no different to the myriad other amber scents out there, but aside from its smoothness, it lacks any of the character that make some of the better ambers stand out. While itís probably a good scent for Diptyque to have in their line-up, it offers nothing new to anyone familiar with the genre.
19th December, 2015

Sidi Bel-AbbŤs by Serge Lutens

This is in a similar vein as perfumes from brands like Clive Christian, Montale, and Roja Dove: over-stuffed and ostentatious in a manner that borders on trashy, only here the volume has been dipped down a few notches. In no specific order, this flip flops between (what smells to me like) notes of wine, suede, chocolate, iris, incense, jasmine, and some citrus for punchy aeration. It shifts around a lot, and thatís really what tanks it: itís too hard to tell what youíre smelling at any given moment. If I were to describe it, Iíd say that it smells like a vodka cocktail served on a leather tray. Thereís something environmental about it, but itís such a mush ó a grey-smelling semi-industrial scent cloud, that, for whatever reason, makes me think of a fog machine. Out of focus and moody, but not entirely unappealing, if the price werenít such a joke, this is the one that Iíd consider following up with again. Iíll wait until it hits the Fragrancenet clearance bin for $50 or so.
21st November, 2015

Renard Constrictor by Serge Lutens

A plush white floral thatís mainly orange blossom over a lactonic tuberose that wears tastefully light, yet is spun full-bodied and cozy through a nifty use of resins. Thereís a throwback elegance to it ó mostly because itís not blaring off the skin ó but itís still hoofing it down hackneyed paths. Pleasant and surprisingly subtle, but wholly unoriginal and redundant. It smells more like an extravagant lotion than a perfume. Friendly enough, but not worth a fraction of the asking price and not even remotely on par with past Serge releases.
21st November, 2015

L'Haleine des Dieux by Serge Lutens

The most fascinating of Sergeís Díoh line, but also the grisliest. Thereís a bit of LíOrpheline in this ó that same vomity-plastic benzoin ó but it's cast medicinal through something coniferous. The opening notes clash totally and completely reflecting the bizarro opening of Serge Noire, however thereís also lime note tucked in that makes the scent smell unnervingly close to Malbrumís Shameless Seducer ó one of the most disturbing scents I tried last year. The best way I can describe this is that itís part-earthy, part-foody, with chemical lime cleaner note added. But after an hour, it becomes vanilla and not much else. Surprisingly unpleasant, but weirdly evocative in its hideousness. I canít see anyone voluntarily wearing something that smells like this, though.
21st November, 2015

Cracheuse de Flammes by Serge Lutens

An olfactory platitude, this is little more than a plumped-up rose perfume over a light vanilla and tuberose base. Itís huge and migraine-inducing, smelling like a cross between some Ď80s power-dresser fragrance and something from a tween-celeb line. Although Iím sure itís loaded with top-shelf materials (well, not so sure actually), it delivers very little given its brazen price tag. I canít see any need for something like this to exist.
21st November, 2015

Cannibale by Serge Lutens

This smells like Portrait of a Lady sprayed on cardboard. Itís the same sparkle rose and incense effect thatís been done plenty of times before. Myrrh drags the scent down play-dough paths, but for the most part, itís the same concept as POAL, Nevermore, Cuir Garamante, and about 30 Montales. The difference here is that Cannibale turns into a more yogurty tuberose after an hour or so whereas others in this genre tend to be more robust (especially POAL). Cannibale is a nice enough scent if you like this style of buzzing red neon-incense, but once more, the price point is just silly for what it is and there are far better versions of the same concept available elsewhere.
21st November, 2015

Sunshine Man by Amouage

Lavender bro-juice with juniper. Take a typical old-timey lavender cologne, pump it full of modern ďmasculineĒ choco-cream sugar-pie filling, then sprinkle on some herbal bite for ďrefinementĒ and thatís Sunshine Man. In contrast to their innovative back catalogue, Amouageís current business strategy seems to be one of pandering to the flightiest of popular tastes. While I wouldnít say that this is an awful scent, itís incoherent ó trying far too hard to be liked by the frat-bro and the Wall St.-bro contingent at the same time. There are three parts to this, all of which are presented equally: a rickety, old lavender; sugary candy; and juniper. Amouageís trick is bringing those aesthetics together in a move that marketing nerds would recognize as ďoverdeterminationĒ (to appeal to as many styles as possible). Itís competent in this regard, but hardly successful in that the mass-commercial appeal is painfully apparent. As an autonomous scent, itís average, but when placed into the context of Amouageís once-rich history, itís crass.
10th November, 2015

Kerbside Violet by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

Being a bit obsessed with both violets and Lush, Iíve wanted to try this scent for a while but distribution problems have rendered the Gorilla III collection as essentially unavailable outside of the UK. Although this isnít the definitive violet scent for me, itís one of the best scents that Lush has released in some time, and certainly a fragrance worth checking out for anyone into cold, glassy florals.

Itís a simple scent: violet leaf (a medicinal green material) and a note that smells like rosewood or mahogany (industrially polished wood with a touch of soap) is met with a barely-present slither of jasmine and that's about it. Combined, these notes smell a bit like herbalized green rose ó slightly bitter, a tad metallic, and exceedingly damp. In fact, thatís how Iíd describe this scent overall: silvery and wet ó like dicing crisp vegetables. Itís glassy and transparent, yet itís not overly fragile; it smells the way a neon light looks after a downpour ó a dejected, shimmering reflection on the sidewalk. Facets of the naturals emerge in unpretty ways (a minor soapyness; an acrid, stemmy trace), but what predominates is the dampness and the chill†ó a standoffish earthy effect that sidesteps the already-tired petrichor clichť. Thereís not a lick of powder or cosmetics that are often associated with violet/iris scents ó this is really quite green. It reminds me more of a freshly mopped flower shop floor than it does a floral perfume (CBIHPís To Smell a Flower achieved this effect too). Whereas I had hoped it might smell more like the Daddy-O products (a thick, coumeric, chewy violet), I do like the direction theyíve taken here. I canít see this being much of a hit with your average Lush shopper though, as many of the brandís products are considerably more sweet whereas this one is borderline chilling. Last, thereís not a lot of foundation behind it, so it doesnít perform that well ó a crisp opening that breaks down into a low-level grassy hum over the course of an hour. Consequently, I might describe Kerbside Violet more as an EdC-style splash for goths. Brisk, green, naturalistic, and somewhat morose. I dig it.
10th November, 2015

Voulez-vous coucher avec Moi by By Kilian

Thereís no way I could chouchez avec someone wearing this. It's a viscous, artificial sweetener of a floriental with grating tuberose-and-vanilla yogurt that doesnít quit. The best way I could describe it is that it smells like an upscale version of a tween celebrity line or something from Bath & Body Works. Itís dated, generic, and totally garish; the kind of perfume thatís responsible for perfumes being outlawed in workplaces.
08th November, 2015

Iris Cendrť by Naomi Goodsir

Naomi Goodsir is a line I want to like more than theyíll let me. While I own (and thoroughly enjoy) Bois díAscese, and my interactions with Naomi and Renaud have been great, Cuir Velours failed to capture my attention, and Or du Serail came apart a little too easy. Iris Cendrť is a great concept that fails on a technical level ó which is a shame as parts of it are very enjoyable.

It starts with juicy, almost bubble-gum effect over a rooty iris; a touch carrot-y and semi-sweet akin to CdGís Sugi. Bois díAsceseís smoke prowls around in the background, and a chalky, papery note moves in (it smells quite literally like stationery ó almost the way a licked envelope tastes). The iris keeps a healthy distance from ďpowderĒ or ďcosmetic,Ē but itís a tad flat as the result. More surprising is that the structure is easily determined (iso e and an evernyl-type note). The effect of the opening is definitely rooty iris, but itís spiked with an earthy, concrete-like accord thatís quite bland (Narciso Rodriguez springs to mind).

The real disappointment, though, is that the scent flies through its cool opening and arrives at its unremarkable base in under 15 minutes. The base has a slight tobacco quality to it (although it smells more like an ashtray than a cigar) thatís merged with a dull cement and slight smoke accord. Itís spun mineralic from the evernyl, but it reminds me too much of Aventus sans pineapple ó that same kind of serviceable yet generic deodorant effect. Itís boring, but itís not unappealing. What is unappealing, though, is how fast it gets to that point. Sadly, Iris Cendrť is a textbook example of a scent that collapses too fast.

Rasquinet is a talented perfumer, and Goodsir is a real purveyor of taste, but I suspect that this partnership could use a break. Goodsir would benefit from going more ďoutsiderĒ and ďpunkĒ ó or at least pushing her ideas further. Iris Cendrť hints at what could be done with iris, but the implementation is too mediocre to warrant the asking price.
07th November, 2015

Dark Rebel by John Varvatos

Gave this a quick sniff tonight. The opening is compelling in a "please buy it before the opening notes wear off" kind of way. It smells like leather, tobacco, saffron, and a touch of licorice. There's no castoreum that I can detect (and I know that material well), but I suspect that the leathery facets might be aiming for "castoreum." It is dark at the outset and smells reasonably moody for a dept. store scent, but it collapses into standard generic vaguery around the 15-minute point. Although I find the Varvatos line to sit a notch above the usual tat that haunts shopping malls, the brand still favors that weird, ambiguously industrial sweet goo-musk that's ubiquitous in mainstream. And that where this heads fast. The interesting opening craps out and you're looking at about three hours of standard-fare Eau de Macy's after that.
29th October, 2015

Incense Flash by Tauerville

No matter how many missteps Tauer takes (in my opinion), I always appreciate his contributions to indie perfumes as well as his expertise in being an all-around nice guy. This, though, is shoddy as it's barely even an accord, let alone a perfume. I doubt there are more than three items in this scent: an unedited cedar/incense extraction that smells somewhat dirty over a mild ambroxan-like base, and thatís about it. The concentration is very low, and it basically smells like a couple of raw materials thrown together on the fly. Pointless and not well done done, but priced fairly at least.
27th October, 2015

Seyrig by Bruno Fazzolari

Seyrig has been hovering around the top of my own ďbest of 2015Ē list, but itís clearly not a scent for everyone. Whereas Lampblack succeeded by slipping uncanny notes into a mainstream aesthetic, others in the collection werenít quite so hospitable. Room 237 cranked up the discomfort with its bizarre ďscrubbed tileĒ effect, and Au Delŗís creaky anachronisms were well-suited for a stone-faced art-house crowd. Seyrig sits somewhere between those styles, leaning more toward Au Delŗís vintage charisma, adding theatrical glam and an overall fresher feel along the way. Although itís a scent that could easily be worn by either gender, it resembles a modernized version of a number of retro femmes, and that resemblance might be a bit too explicit for some.

Seyrig sports a mix of aldehydes, spendy naturals (rose and iris), and a smattering of musky, earthy elements ó the kind of ingredients that mainstream perfumers only wish they had access to for their releases. The opening is a silver-tongued dirty / clean paradox with real throwback appeal. Aldehydes blend with stems for an earth-tinged chypre effect that are overridden by a shrewd, scratchy cumin. The scent is soapy-clean, yet not soap-in-the-mouth soapy-clean ó more along the lines of the Chanel-style aldehydes that showed up in last yearís Maai. As it settles, it becomes more of a bronze and tan shimmer ó a spiced bouquet with a defined milky texture, and thatís where it stays for much of its wear. Itís big and retro at first, becoming more decorous and levelheaded over time. Itís not a powerhouse performer, but it does masquerade as one for the first hour or so. Although I align the general feel to that of Au DelŠ, Seyrig is more crisp overall.

Fazzolariís talent lies in his ability to cite the past. The vintage feel is ubiquitous, but itís not anchored to a moment. This scent could easily have existed in the Ď20s or the Ď40s, but it also has a hazy Ď70s gold lamť feel to it as well. The name is clearly a reference to Delphine Seyrig, and a cursory image search reveals a variety of characters played by the actress, several of which look like theyíd be well suited in this perfume. But whatever the association, Seyrig walks a fine line line between attention-seeking and aloof indifference. In that regard, the scent has a costume-like appeal; its innate drama acts as a boisterous statement. With that said, itís also a dressy kind of scent that would require a defined sense of style to pull it off well ó itís not going to appeal to fans of todayís more generic mass-produced perfumes, but will most likely win the hearts of folks who enjoyed the more eccentric perfumes of the Ď70s, Ď80s, and possibly the Ď90s. If you loved Lampblack but have been on the fence about Fazzolariís other scents, Iíd suggest a generous sampling first. But if a revitalized take on histrionic vintage is your thing, and you enjoyed offerings like Au Delŗ, then Seyrig will most likely serve you well.
27th October, 2015

Sable Marocain / Morocco Sand by Phaedon

A civil amber with floral trimmings. The florals initially read as iris, but then take a spiced-citrus turn. Sweet notes elbow their way in but donít dominate. Over time, things get more rooty ó a honeyed vetiver kind of effect. The scentís a bit schizo overall ó sugary floral accords over resins, none of which really makes an impact. Itís a pleasant enough smell ó a sort balsamic iris with sugar sprinkles ó but itís boring. It could easily be a high-end shampoo or a room scent or something; it doesnít have enough character to be a free-standing perfume.
27th October, 2015

Fareb by HuitiŤme Art

Strong in smell yet weak in build, Fareb reminds me of an early draft of Fate Man even though Fareb came first. Iíd describe this scent as a cumin-infused cedar over semi-oriental candy notes with a rough, dry edge to it (think Les Nezís Lion). Vague florals (powdery iris) and fruits (raisin-esque) add ornament, yet the scent remains dry and even a bit shrill. Thereís a savory, curried feel to the whole thing, but after 30 minutes it becomes a dull sugary, lip-sticky base. Not bad, but not great either. Iíd check out El Attarine or Fate Man for more successful takes on the same style.
27th October, 2015

Memory of Kindness by CB I Hate Perfume

A verdant, coniferous thing with a slight soapy / shampoo angle. Thereís a rhubarb / tomato leaf effect at the top to give the scent edge, but it never gets too spiky. The CB standard-fare petrichor is present, and itís a tad mossy as well. But, for the most part, itís a bristly aromatic that splits the difference between a bed of ferns and a stalk. As with many scents in the collection, itís hyperreal but fleeting ó this oneís all but dead within 15 minutes, so get a Demeter version instead as Brosius probably made it anyway.
27th October, 2015