Smart but lazy. What a shame. Dunhill Fresh could have been a really good perfume for me, if they just put some more effort in it. It is basically a violet-centered mix between a brighter version of Dior’s Fahrenheit crossed with Jil Sander Man; sort of greener and more “aquatic” than both, with a really nice soft leather base note and a smooth powdery accord of violet and green stuff. A sprinkle of woods and that’s it. So there is this kind of dark, really mellow and comforting smooth base of powdery synthetic leather with a really enjoyable and refined wood accord, topped with a sort of damp green accord of grassy citrus and herbs. So far so good, so where’s the problem? The problem is that for some inexplicable reasons, it all smells deeply, desperately lifeless and pale for me. Maybe the materials are cheap, but more than that, in my opinion it feels like if they had these two nice “ideas” to develop – something leathery-violet-rubbery, something grassy-aquatic-musky – and at some point they just slapped one onto the other and bottled the concoction as-is, without really caring to “tune in” the notes together. So you get this blend which seems containing two separate layers which proceed in a parallel way rather than blending, like if you layered two different perfumes. And they end up in taming down and annihilating each other. That’s a shame because you feel they would go well together, with just some more tuning and some consistency to really become “one” – and a quite good one. Instead here it all remains kind of uneven and patchy in my opinion. Not a complete disaster, though: as-is, it’s a decently nice, classy, warm and unoffensive office-safe perfume with an elegant and discreet projection close to skin (and a crap persistence). Nothing really “fresh” for me, but bright in its own way. Just way duller than it may have been with just a little more effort.
Trèfle Pur opens with a pleasant and quite old school citrus-woody-musky structure reminding of any classic masculine eau de cologne – from 4711 to several designer “eaux” (Hermès, Cartier, Dior, Rochas...). Citrus, neroli, green notes, woods, something musky-resinous: as much good as more conventional than ever. The only difference here for me would me initially a subtle and quite nondescript sort of humid grassy-earthy note that I can not identify clearly, which provides a peculiar (and honestly, just partially pleasant) sort of damp, sultry, sort of “vegetable” feel that reminds me of the infamous “spinach” note of Guerlain’s Coriolan – just a bit more pungent and cheaper here. This, and a light pastel hint of violet. Finally as minutes pass the cardamom note emerge with its enveloping spicy warmth well blending with an equally “emerging” note of vetiver, and that’s it for a couple of hours until the very final drydown arrives – a really light and quite pleasant sort of “dusty” and clean woody-soapy accord. Softly bracing and classy, and also quite well persistent. But yet not enough not to make me consider Trefle Pur a bit uninteresting overall, as it smells basically like any (cheaper) designer with these same notes, and I wonder who on Earth would pay 65 EUR for 30 ml of this zesty dullness; but fairly nice per se.
In Leather Man by Aigner is hands down the worst leather fragrance I’ve ever tried. Even taking into account the really cheap price, for me it is still just desperately obnoxious, and completely unworthy *any* price. It opens with a harsh, extremely artificial nondescript smell which I think should be aimed at evoking leather, while it clumsily smells more like a car under the sun – not a particularly rusty or dirty one, just a normal car with that really boring smell of plastic, metal, rubber, cheap imitation leather. I think I get some musk, some components similar to what other manufacturers know better how to use for leather accords, and something ambery; it may sound decent, but the result is just a disaster for me. It’s not leather – actually for me this is really nothing at all. The drydown arrives quickly, light and sweaty. Until now I used to consider as the “worst leather fragrances” the ones which just uncreatively reiterate the same usual aromachemicals (e.g. suederal, safraleine ecc.), but at least, they smell “leather”. This smells just nauseating nonsense for me. If you want to stick to this brand (God knows why) I recall Aigner Black being a little more decent and more similar to an actual leather scent.
Smoke by Goti smells to me basically like Comme des Garçons Kyoto with a synthetic boozy-resinous note and something slightly fruity enhancing the warmer and sweeter side of (synthetic) incense. Balsamic and mentholated, smoky and sweetly warm, with a decidedly “aloof” and contemporary vibe as you may guess by the packaging. And a really nice, subtle yet surprisingly true to life and “living” woody accord. Really easy to like and wear... even too much, maybe; for this price and this market positioning I would personally expect something more than such a “friendly”, and honestly not that impressive sweet-minty incense. I mean: it smells great, refined and stylish, but also a bit redundant among the plethora of similar, and often cheaper offerings - and in my opinion a bit unnecessarily hipster too (this including the packaging and the retail channels they chose for distributing this – again, just a personal opinion regarding expectations vs. reality). The juice per se is highly enjoyable, bracing and versatile, with also a slight and I guess involuntary connection to Gucci Rush Men on the drydown – so yes, I would surely grab it if I found a half-priced bottle; it is just something a bit less “unique” and interesting than it may seem at first.
So after YSL came up in 2003 with that fantastic time-machine called Rive Gauche pour Homme, here’s Bourdon composing one year later another decidedly old-school, completely non-fashion fragrance for Grès. The quality isn’t really comparable in my opinion, but neither was the price, as I guess Cabaret was way more cheap; the inspiration though, that was quite similar. Cabaret pour Homme is basically a sort of fruitier, slightly more “contemporary” take on Van Cleef & Arpels' Tsar: that same type of formal aromatic fougère structure, played with a couple of added or, say, “renovated” chords – notably fruits, a floral-green whiff, also something like amber or labdanum “warming” it up a bit, with also a subtle sort of tobacco-incense aftertaste. At once fresher and warmer. Take Tsar and imagine it sweeter, a bit younger and more “informal”. Basically like putting a baseball cap and a Supreme t-shirt on your grandpa. Openly “uncool” and slightly naif: I love that. The quality isn’t really top-notch for me, but it isn’t totally bad either; Cabaret smells nice and versatile, “manly” in a slightly dated way with just a hint of warmth and modern tints.
Also, it has a sort of really well-played feel of “luxury” which is as much fake as enjoyable, like a well-made counterfeit Rolex replica. Actually it’s fascinating as it smells at the same time heavily cheap on some nuances, but somehow the overall look is good and the composition seems clever enough to “disguise” the cheapness. Anyway I can see why this is overlooked, as it sits right in the grey nowhere halfway a classic aromatic fougère and a more modern “office-safe” woody-spicy-fruity-smoky scent for contemporary men; but it’s at once too modern and too sweet for fans of classic fougères, and surely still too outdated for the average contemporary taste. And there’s the “appealing-to-nobody” trap. It’s a shame because it is instead a really decent and enjoyable blend of these two inspirations, which makes you feel wearing something mannered, classy and mature enough but with a more relaxed, playful, less “austere” vibe. Miles away being a creative piece of art or a “compliment getter”, but give it a chance if you stumble upon it.
The opening of Lime Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone reminded me a bit of L’homme de Grès; that similar sort of really pungent, decidedly “virile”, kind of old-school and really bitter lime-green note supported by a woody, somber, almost chypre (in a really subtle way) base. At first the mandarin is not really there and neither is basil to my nose, but in a matter of minutes the bitter and fresh “head of the head notes” vanishes off and the fragrance starts to warm on skin – at that point you surely get a slightly sweeter, more aromatic-floral blend which seems comprising also something like neroli. Still no basil to my nose, weirdly enough I get thyme and sage more clearly; overall, basically a sort of aromatic green fougère centered on lime-orange with a subtle and to me, quite masculine woody-herbal-musky base smelling quite dark, slightly waxy and also slightly camphorous. And kind of “humid” too.
Also, I think I clearly get here the sort of aftershave vibe I get from many British fragrances based on classic structures (like those countless “West Indian Limes” colognes by Truefitt & Hill, Taylors of Old Bond Street and similar “gentleman’s grooming” brands) – although it may be just pure suggestion. Surely anyway something way less fresh than one may assume by reading the name. Overall, in my opinion Lime Basil & Mandarin isn’t bad at all, almost quite good actually; the only negative thing for me is that I get a whiff of something annoyingly and persistently synthetic that somehow “ruins the magic”. For me, citrus-green scents – more than others – need to be as much natural as possible to smell pleasant, fulfilling and compelling, to avoid smelling like floor detergents or cheap soaps. This doesn’t really make it for me, at least not entirely; it smells decently good, but I feel it would have been way better if part of the efforts was also financial - I mean in raising the budget and picking better materials. Still quite nice overall, just don’t expect something neither fresh nor particularly solid or refined.
This fragrance puzzles me. It smells at the same time pedestrian and refined,a bit tacky but immensely pleasant to wear. I think overall I lean to a positive opinion about this, making me think that Almairac did a laudable and really creative job with not-so-great resources at hand. What puzzles me here is that it took me quite some time to familarize with this fragrance and be able to even just get some of the notes. At first it was just an odd “whole” smelling at once massively generic, yet never smelled before – but I admit I may be just a bit relatively new to this side of “cheapos”, so probably it is just something I am not used to. Anyway what I get at the very opening is a thick, balmy, quite sweet but somehow perfectly wearable blend comprising fruity-powdery notes on a sort of dusty, dry, “greyish” amber and labdanum base. I get something soapy which I guess is rose, and something juicy and green-aromatic definitely smelling like apple. This first stage is quite bold and as nearly any other reviewer noted, quite heavy to the point of overwhelming. And honestly a bit cheap too, but in a tolerable, playful way.
The drydown on the contrary is really good, mellow and subtle but perfectly vibrant even after many hours. It is by far the best part of Desire for me, and it luckily arrives soon and stays there for hours; still “artificially” sweet but more leaning on a gentler, somehow “breezier” rose-wood accord, just scented with a restrained and perfectly gentle hint of fruit, echoing the dry, slightly sour woods of scents like Trussardi Inside Man, and the woody, slightly syrupy sweetness of Escada Magnetism for Men. Also, on the drydown there is a decidedly bolder presence of labdanum and amber with an equally sharp sort of soapy musk. I think I get something aldehydic, too. Again, really synthetic and almost tacky on one side, but inexplicably so enjoyable to wear, even refined. It may be just a suggestion, but I think I get some of the ideas Almairac used with more class (and probably more budget) ten years later or so for Bottega Veneta EDP for women; a really similar sort of sweet, floral, “gassy” dustiness almost “abstract” in its syntheticness. Not sure if Desire may be considered a “good” fragrance, all I know is that it smells really pleasant to wear, and overall quite distinctive and memorable. It reminds me of McDonald’s stuff – probably the crappiest materials around, but still I bet most of us love those sandwiches every time, and still pretty much nothing tastes like that (either in a good or bad way). Much powerful in both projection and persistence, so – use sparingly.
Noble Cedar opens with an extremely harsh and openly synthetic sort of cedar-tar note with a subtle yet pungent sort of nutty-metallic aftertaste, a slight “burning rubber” feel, and a couple of other depressing key nuances of many low-quality drugstore woody fragrances (or, “fascinating & totally legitimately overpriced avantgarde post-woody niche scents”). Surely more wood than nobility. The nice thing is that it is undoubtedly simple as it smells nearly as applying a couple of aromachemicals out of their bottle, right on skin; so if you like the smell – a raw albeit artificial woody galore - it’s a score. Within some 30 minutes though, the “synthetic cedar” part comes to a transition, and a smooth, way more enjoyable salty vetiver note pops out, basically becoming soon the main note. Bright and clean, which here feels like the balmy sunny breeze after a storm. I don’t know how Noble Vetiver from this same line smells, but this is definitely a vetiver scent at this point – and so it will remain for a couple of hours before starting to vanish. The opening isn’t really promising, but overall Noble Cedar isn’t that bad – just keep in mind it’s mostly a vetiver scent except for the obnoxious opening stage. Overall still too cheap for me, but almost decent.
I’ve tried hard to be patient and wait the obnoxious opening to change into something more agreeable, but I really can’t. I mean, I did, but just for your information – it is not really worth it. I don’t believe that much in “skin chemistry” variations but I guess I should start to, because unlike other reviewers experienced, the first minutes of Agua de Loewe are hideous on me. A painful journey through a horrific harsh accord of heavily pungent and synthetic citrus notes, something oddly spicy-nutty, something musky-watery-stale and a really unpleasant whiff of orange, vanilla and maybe sandalwood, adding a hint of nauseous aromatic warmth to that screechy mess. These latter notes would be even nice themselves, but it’s like smelling a slice of pie while you are in the middle of a stomach flu. Loud, plastic – “wrong”, shortly. And bloody haunting like your own shadow. Then, after a while it naturally starts to tone down a bit, entering a more enjoyable phase in which it still smells cheap, but at least it does it more smoothly and discreetly. Also, it smells progressively less citrusy and more woody-herbal-tea still with a whiff of orange and musk, and a general “fresh” feel. A bit more decent, still kind of loud and a bit cheap, however unworthy the first nightmare phase for me. Don’t bother.
For me, Contradiction for Men has always been one of the several epitomes of “insignificance in a bottle”. But the main flaw here is not even the uncreative dullness, which is still perfectly acceptable as not all audiences need creative stuff; rather the quite evident cheap quality of the fragrance itself. Not tragically cheap, but quite cheap for me. Basically this is a fresh, office/gym/club-safe citrus-woody-musk fragrance playing some modern chords on a traditional “eau de cologne” scheme, with a slight balminess and a painful similarity to a window detergent, sitting halfway smelling “almost pleasantly natural” and “annoyingly synthetic” – far enough from both qualities though, sitting in the exact nonsense middle between them. Neither an “avantgarde synthetic fragrance” (which may likely smell crap, but that would be post-modernly “ironic”), surely nor a particular true to life and natural one. Just exactly the worst type of mall/drugstore fragrance trying to emulate some sort of natural notes with really cheap materials. Which makes Contradiction almost a bit tacky, as it does not show even some slight sort of generic understated cleanliness. It is actually rather bold on the contrary; that would be a plus, if the smell was nice. And quality aside, the fragrance isn’t still worthy any attention for me, as I find this just plain dull and indistinguishable from dozens of others – likely better – lemon-woody-musk fragrances. Perfectly interchangeable with any of them, and chances are for the better. I am a big fan of designer fragrances so this is not really a matter of being mainstream, just plain negligible regardless of the label.
Carven pour Homme, which has little to do with Carven Homme from 1999 (I won’t say “nothing at all” though), perfectly nails the intent Carven expressed about this new launch. I read on the press they aimed at offering an unpretentious, discreet yet elegant, quality and pleasant everyday scent for “a brother and a soulmate” or something like that, shortly they seemed uninterested in referencing to more trite marketing themes behind most of masculine fragrances (women, seduction, sport cars, yuppie douches having a swim ecc.), tending more to offering a crisp scent for a man who just wanto to smell nice for himself. Now, they nailed all that because Carven pour Homme is indeed – and sadly, nothing more that – a really decent, pleasant, lively and versatile woody fragrance with a subtle hint of creative distinction, mostly lying in Kurkdjian’s signature note of orangle blossoms. Nearly unperceivable, but it’s there and provides a touch of zest, a slightly “feminine” pastel sweetness to an otherwise classy but kind of dull 30-something office-safe look – an aromatic blend of wood, spices, violet: you can easily guess how this may smell, pick any mainstream woody scent from the recent years. That ephemeral and quickly-vanishing floral-orange whiff is still obviously not enough to make Carven pour Homme something significantly more interesting than a really conventional yet quality sweet-spicy woody-violet fragrance, but it surely adds a touch of interest. Overall I admit that this fragrance smells more quality and more natural than others: you won’t feel wearing the most creative scent around, but you will feel and smell really nice. Probably pointless if you’re a collector owning dozens of (probably superior) fragrances, but a well worthy option if you’re not that into perfumes and are just looking for a new signature scent. So yes, I can’t say I dislike this: maybe “nicely mediocre” and maybe slightly overpriced for the quality, but still solid and probably one of the safest and nicest “perfect gifts” for brothers, dads and boyfriends.
P.S.: No similarity with either Cool Water or Green Irish Tweed for me, it’s obviously the same league in broad terms, but there’s very little room for comparison.
Insensé is one of the many fragrances I shamefully underrated for a long time, I guess for my lack of experience and proper taste. I always misjudged this in the past, always trying it quickly from samples or decants, and always ending up in considering it only a really nice albeit a bit boring and kind of heavy sort of “overly feminine fougère”; I am really glad I grabbed a deal recently and got a small 30 ml bottle of this some days ago, so that I had the chance to wear this at its fullest and give it a proper chance. And I got, as they say, a true “epiphany” about this – from mild enthusiasm to sudden devoted worshipping. It is indeed the hyped masterpiece many rave about, and the hype is fully justified. Actually, no, it even gets way less hype than it should. For me, Insensé has now jumped straight on top of the – however limited – chart of the best floral fragrances for men ever made, because it is hands down one of the best, if not the best one ever. And easily among the best masculine offerings in general ever made. Luca Turin once mentioned two key features of this, which perfectly reflect what I also strongly felt while full wearing this the first time: “melancholy and mystery”. It is exactly how I also view Insensé: this a dramatically romantic, rich and slightly decadent scent which stunningly blends decades of masculine and feminine perfumery in an enigmatic, completely new, clever, breathtakingly creative and above all, irresistibly good unisex floral blend. Which indeed smells mysteriously “different” from anything else. Like a prism, it reflects echoes of perfumes ranging from Cristalle, to Diorella, to Caron’s 3rd Man.
The smell is complex but seamlessly beautiful: there is a rich heart symphony of green herbs and flowers refreshed by a subtle fruit-pine breeze, contrasting a deeply dark, smoky base accord of woods and aldehydes which provide “weight” and baroque gloominess to flowers and herbs. The overall feel is soapy, smoky, lightly waxy, aldehydic to the bone, floating between a nostalgic green-chypre powderiness and a fresher, more austere balsamic-woody feel of many classic fougères. Not simply a juxtaposition of different styles, just a true rewriting using selected key notes and accords from all those inspirations. It may sound simple or boring, it’s definitely not: as I said it’s truly a sort of triumphant gathering of decades of perfumery blending together to compose this incredibly handsome, unique mosaic. Distinctive, bracing and sophisticated in a quite peculiar, decadent way to say the least, probably also quite “gothic” to a certain extent: surely “not for the faint of heart”. Totally worthy the high prices. Leave that shitty niche boutique and save your money for this.
I would have never thought I would have liked this, but as they say, one must never judge the book by its cover. And that applies in particular with perfumes. So don’t get fooled by the lame superhero name, the kind of cheap (yet wonderfully handy and ergonomic) bottle, the shiny blue colour, and overall that juvenile MTV Summer Chart kind of esthetics. The fragrance is way more complex, darker and fascinating than it may seem. And above all, phew! - it smells really nice. To my nose Aquaman is an extremely pleasant Mediterranean blend of aromatic notes of grass, balsamic-green “dark” herbs (like sage and olive tree leaves, that kind of “dark”, dry, aromatic greenness), something slightly floral-anisic on the barbershop side (lavender or similar, or maybe sage again) pepper, nutmeg and a spicy-woody base. Shortly an aromatic fougère brilliantly translated into summer-aquatic terms but using balsamic-herbal “words” instead of calone or fruits, slightly close to Fendi Thereoma Uomo's kind of league but more catchy than that. All smells unexpectedly true-to-life (I won’t say “natural”, but I don’t get anything particularly synthetic-metallic), and also surprisingly “watery” indeed, albeit in a more unusual way: a sort of humid, sultry muskiness which does indeed convey a feel of luke warm azure water. Nothing salty and nothing “ozonic”, rather a liquid, somehow even dark smell of condensation water stuffed with bracing balsamic-peppery-herbal nuances. Nothing heavy though.
What I enjoy the most here and what actually led me to consider this fragrance with more attention is that Aquaman has just a really good sillage, something inexplicably pleasant to feel around you, slightly different from what you smell close to skin. It’s like a whiff of extremely realistic “medicinal balsamicness” you feel around yourself. Truly nice. For some reasons this smells way more herbal and Mediterranean than many other fragrances clearly associated to that inspiration – and at the same time, it has very little to do with the “synthetic aquatic family” it can be easily compared to judging by the bottle and the esthetic. I like these little gems hiding these nice unexpected surprises. I think Aquaman can still be found for cheap, so if you’re looking for a less generic option for something fresh and balsamic, give this a chance. You’ll smell nice and (fairly) different.
GS02 is a dry tar-herbal-fruity scent with a greyish “synthetic ash-smoke” feel all over, a sort of subtle amber-civet undertone, and an airy-gassy fruity note that weirdly reminds me of Baldessarini EDC and to a lesser extent, Lang’s Cuiron. While pretty much all the rest, the synthetic tar-leather base and the synthetic woodiness kind of remind me of Jil Sander Scent 79 (or any other cheap “dry-woody” contemporary fragrance) with an added old-school animalic vibe and a whiff of some sort of eucalyptus/cypress/olive tree note (half of these will be gone in minutes, anyway). The only thing I like here, i.e. the only thing which doesn’t remind me of ten times cheaper fragrances, is the overall texture, which is indeed fascinatingly weightless, feeling almost “empty” and fairly modern – “fairly” because honestly I am quite convinced that if GS02 was called, don’t know, “Herr for Man” and cost 20 EUR at your local drugstore, I bet everyone considered this “a generic and dull woodyamber-fruity scent smelling too light and lasting like a fart”. Worthy a try, but nothing really more than that for me.
Despite the bottle reminding me of that scene from “A shot in the dark” where Clouseau clumsily attempts to put a billiard stick back on the rack (“whoever invented that rack should have his head examined!” – if the bottle doesn’t seem that ugly to you, try to hold the 100 ml and spray), the juice inside it is fairly nice. I barely heard about this fragrance until I blind bought it today, and I found very little information about it as it seems nearly none cared for it. I wonder why, because it’s a really decent scent – or, say, nothing worse that many other more famous scents. Antoine Maisondieu composed it and you can definitely recognize his “hand” and his “signature” notes: Balman is in fact a mellow, crisp, kind of balmy and totally contemporary scent mostly featuring a really pleasant balsamic-sandalwood accord (“eucalyptus” they say, to me it seems plain generic mint) with violet, lavender, tonka, something smoky and slightly similar to leather which may however be just a darker wood note. The drydown features a prominent accord of tonka and sandalwood with a powdery and still breezy-balsamic feel, so be prepared for a smooth, light, sweet sillage around you. Surprisingly long lasting albeit really close to skin. Something halfway Paul Smith London and Jil Sander Man, with a sprinkle of Gucci Rush Men’s drydown (just a sprinkle, sadly). Maisondieu’s skills are really good for me when it comes to create subtle, refined and soft yet sharp scents, and Balman makes no exception. Surely quite a bit “generic” and pedantically complying with most of early 2000s masculine perfumery clichés, but the quality is nice and it makes Balman sit way above other similar, similarly-priced but way cheaper (quality-wise) fragrances. I mean, it’s Balmain after all – a certain level of decency still remains. It won’t give you goose bumps, but for the price (some 40 eur/100 ml) it is a respectable, versatile, pleasant, anywhere-safe unpretentious good deal for me.
13th May, 2015 (last edited: 14th May, 2015)
At a first sniff, Au Masculin by Lolita Lempicka hangs precariously on the thin fence between a great fragrance and a tacky mess: luckily, for me it quickly and brilliantly manages to fall on the right side - so yes, that was to say it’s a really good fragrance. Among the very few solid gourmands for men, tightly connected to Yohji Homme and Rochas Man, completing this ideal sacred trio with a decidedly anisic-balsamic blend infused with a beautifully “azure”, playful, juvenile pastel mood – kind of cheesy, but fun. I always admire fragrance willing to play something different than usual masculine clichés, both scent-wise and marketing storytelling-wise and Au Masculin surely wins it. Besides aniseed and licorice, which is surely the bolder top accord, I also get a totally pleasant whiff of green fresh notes, perfectly enhancing the cheesy “sexually blurry fairy forest” theme of the advertising campaign (again, something this close to look completely pathetic, but instead it looks oddly intriguing to me). The smell is way more refined and masculine that it may seem from the packaging and the advertising; it’s sweet but also musky, mannered, even slightly smoky while smelling at the same time delightfully bright and graceful – a dry, dusty, “virile” kind of grace – and breezy. That’s it: aniseed, herbs, a subtle fougère bone-structure, with a beautiful and bold Oriental accord of tonka and woods slowly arising on the drydown, echoing other renowned resinous-powdery scents for men (a sweeter and breezier Body Kouros, like other reviewers noted; or also, a drier, brighter Jaipur Homme). I admit the quality isn’t really comparable to either Yohji or Rochas, though; the notes smell somehow flat and synthetic, but nothing overly annoying. I guess the budget wasn’t stellar, and Annick Menardo did a really great job with the materials here. I am really glad they picked such a talented nose for this fragrance – many others would have probably made a disgrace, while Au Masculin is on the contrary a really pleasant sweet scent with a (cleverly engineered) crisp and light sillage, a decent evolution and a decent persistence. Recommended.
And here’s the only other decent scent from this half-baked new line by Pierre Guillaume (the other was Long Courrier – which I honestly prefer way over this). Straight to the point, Jangala is decent at least for the first couple of hours, for two main and kind of obvious reasons: it smells nice until it can, and it is fairly creative. If making a “creative rewriting” of tropical-aquatic clichés was the aim of this new line, Jangala *almost* made it. Definition-wise this would be in my opinion a sort of green-fruity-woody scent with a mineral-watery texture, like pretty much any other of this line, but this and Long Courrier are basically the only ones able to add something to it - something I can’t honestly define. I think it simply “works” and succeeds in avoiding any “tropical shower gel/sun cream” effect. There is a bitter-sweet juxtaposition going on which makes Jangala really intriguing at first: something lightly sugary, plushy and pleasantly creamy (coconut, sandalwood) perfectly coexisting with a fresher, sharper, slightly pungent balsamic-citric sour top accord, both embracing a cozy and exotic “tropical” blend of ginger, herbs (that olive leaves thing), something floral, woods and fruity notes (I guess still coconut and the rest of the pyramid) with a decided ozonic-metallic and weightless “glassy” vibe that keeps it all on the fresh-watery and “grey-azure” side. Nothing overly exotic or weird, as it nearly reminds me of some ginger-woody masculine designers (from Envy to YSL L’Homme) with a brighter, coconut-balsamic-breezy twist. But still, fun and fascinating overall.
Besides working fine, I also like how Guillaume managed to keep the blend seemingly natural making a clever use of materials, at least for the initial phase (long enough to convince retailers and distributors at tradeshows to get some stocks, I guess). Sadly though, all of that you just read works for me for a couple of hours, before Jangala starts collapsing into a sort of cheaper, harshly pungent citronnel-infused woody-ozonic-herbal drydown *now* showing the actual quality of some components (in other words, smelling a bit more openly synthetic and flat). Still not completely bad, but well... Surely worse than it seemed at first for me. Despite this, personally I would still consider Jangala an interesting, decently creative and almost solid “watery balsamic coconut cocktail” with a disappointing – not hideous, just disappointing - drydown. Still surely among the best you can get in this genre – just keep reapplying it and avoid the crap drydown.
La nuit de who? This is la nuit de le 12 years old sipping a Diet Coke and smoking puff cigarettes. A disappointing, juvenile and cheap lavender-cardamom-woody-tobacco “club scent” smelling like YSL L’Homme layered with Declaration, Lanvin Avantgarde and/or Armani Code, inexplicably relating “night” with a bright, sweetish, teenish vibe. Lasting like a fart - which is good, though: the barely-perceivable drydown is almost enjoyable. If “ladies love this” then either I don’t understand a thing about women or we agree to disagree on the concept of “ladies”. Meh!
I can’t say I hate this, but this is surely the duller and blander YSL fragrance for men I’ve ever tried, together with the other couple of flankers they made out of this. It isn’t bad, the quality seems to me mildly good, and if you’re looking for a safe unpretentious gift for a non-fan of fragrances to wear all day long, all year round, this would be a nice choice with a decent price for the value. It’s a fresh, unobtrusive ginger-citrus-woody fragrance playing some aromatic fougère chords but with a decided “younger” vibe, focusing on sweet woods and spices (Envy for Men), and fresh-aromatic notes, with a conventional note of soft violet. Mellow and polished, sweet and boringly fresh, kind of “young” and if I got the term correctly, kind of “bro” too – the smoky-fruity sweetness, the extreme linearity, the overall dullness (but maybe bros need bombs? This isn’t, just in case). Miles away from what once was a mature and classy brand delivering delightful fragrances like M7 or Rive Gauche, they seem now more aimed at 20-something in need of boosting their sex agendas. Not bad as I said, but nothing really special.
Free Life is an underrated and – it seems – well unknown fragrance suffering from a coincidence of bad luck and bad choices – a hideous 1980s’ racing-inspired packaging, an achingly dull name, and the fact it’s from Aigner, which has always been both fairly underrated and maybe badly distributed. But the fragrance, well... that’s good. In my opinion it smells basically like a darker, smokier and “boozier” version of Zino Davidoff: I get many similarities between the two scents, that same kind of aromatic herbal-powdery-tobacco camphorous dustiness stuffed with (quite heavy) floral notes, aromatic herbs, and musky dry woods. An aromatic Oriental fougère with a twist, which is here represented by a more prominent presence of woods, amber and resins, and possibly something like rosewood too. So overall a drier, smokier take on Zino. That ambery-wood accord smells to me so dark and intense it recalls a boozy note of whiskey, which however vanishes soon. The drydown is an elegant, cozy and discreet musky-woody-smoky smell with a classy floral nuance. Overall something miles away from what you may imagine by looking at the name and the packaging – this is a really sophisticated dark scent, perhaps just a tiny tad tacky but surely closer to a virile yet mannered “Aigner pour Monsieur” than to the “BroDouche Sport Powerhouse” one may imagine by looking at the box. Nothing really new, but total quality to any extent.
I am not familiar with the original edition of The Vert, which seems quite appreciated. All I know is that this Extreme version smells... this close to a nightmare, for me. I get a really little “tea” note out of this, but it’s entirely drowned in an unbearably plastic and harsh blend with coriander and cardamom above all, something citrusy, something synthetically greenish and a bunch of really pungent spices. And just other stuff I can’t recognize. This smells at the same time complex and really simple, harmonically screechy and completely disgraceful on skin. More than “notes”, it’s just olfactive noise, a weird and rough spicy-sweet-green-tea mess. I can’t explain why, maybe is just a subjective issue, but this really makes me physically sick. Tremendously bold and linear, and as if wasn’t enough, also tragically persistent. A proper “scrubber” for me.
Valentino Vendetta pour Homme is a sophisticated leather fougère with an aromatic citrus-floral heart, more or less of the same league of Dior’s Jules and Ted Lapidus pour Homme, but slightly more floral and resinous, and also both smokier on one side, and fresher on the other. A sophisticated dark gem with a really refined feel of smoky sweat and austere “manliness”, yet not overly dry or “gloomy”, rather showing a really pleasant gentler side. Flechier composed this, and you can smell that; Vendetta pour Homme falls definitely on the classy, elegant, mature, “luxury” side - so don’t think of any younger, bolder (and tackier, most of the times) powerhouses. The blend is intense, but not loud or heavy – actually it is way more discreet than most of similar old-school leathers. Flechier was able to infuse a bright, discreet feel which really elevates the quality of Vendetta. Mature stuff which could have been easily a Chanel or a Dior, just with an Italian added value – the smoky-leathery dark “austerity” of other Italian fragrances of that unsurpassed golden era (Krizia, Moschino etc.). Nothing groundbreaking, but a mandatory stop for all fans of the genre.
The name fits the scent, in the least fascinating meaning possible. There is indeed a salty aquatic base, and there is a decided “airy” breezy-green feel well completed by pastel, slightly creamy notes of fruits and something musky similar to ambergris. I also get some floral notes which I don’t see in the composition, like ylang and lys, but maybe they’re just some side-nuances of some whatever aromachemicals have been used here. The problem for me is that, briefly put, anything here in my opinion smells flat, synthetic and uninspired. By this I mean – and I really mean that, no exaggeration – that I personally smell no big difference with any “sea-fruity-floral” shower gel or deodorant, to any extent; the notes, the concept, the composition, the quality on skin. This is precisely more or less what pretty much any “insert cheap sea-exotic name here” shower gel leaves on your skin. Up to you to decide if the 150 eur price gap is enough to justify a bit more sillage and longevity.
As perfect as Dior Homme and heavily similar to it (no point in describing the notes again then): just deeper, probably with more iris, slightly darker, muskier, more powerful and with a bolder lasting on skin. Maybe slightly woodier too. Layering the two of them using Dior Homme Intense's drydown as a base for Dior Homme brought me this close to getting rid of 90% of the rest of my wardrobe. I am not familiar with the alleged variations among Dior Homme and Dior Homme Intense batches, all I know is that my 2014 bottle of the Intense is a glorious, delightfully non-redundant companion to its timeless brother.
R by Revillon is indeed the little gem one may assume by reading the reviews. I still haven’t clear what makes it so nice, but well, it is. Basically it is a really clean, pleasantly conventional, decidedly 1990’s scent with a touch of distinction and a truly respectable quality. For this price, I’d dare to say this is probably the best “bang for the buck” you’ll ever find. This is a perfectly compelling and quite remarkable “true fragrance” with the price of a shitty deodorant. A smooth masculine fragrance revolving around crisp woods, tart herbs, a hint of smooth leather, an Oriental spicy accord, a subtle and terribly pleasant sweet-powdery note, something resinous and slightly green (green I mean here “pine” green) floating on the background providing a sort of watery-balsamic feel. Perfect subtle barbershop-like drydown, woody and slightly powdery with still a hint of classy leather. Overall R ranges from balsamic to spicy and woody, mostly focusing on delivering a feel of “ balmy effortless cleanliness”. This places it among the great masculine classics meant for men to splash generously after a shave or a shower: nothing avantgarde, nothing overly “sexy”, nothing meant to rule the club and steal the ladies to other ill-scented boys. Just something to smell good – in its highest meaning - and elegant, echoing Hardy Amies’ golden rule of mens’ elegance (“a man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them”). Which is by no means something “easy” to accomplish, and that’s what makes R by Revillon a precious little gem. If Roucel really composed this, well, no surprise. Revillon deserves all respect for making such a nice scent at such a honest price. Probably my irrelevant final mark is higher than it should, but who cares, I can’t help loving and supporting the ridiculously cheap price and the understated attitude of this fragrance.
Easily the nicest scent for me among these four new offerings of “La Collection Croisière” by Guillaume, together with Jangala. For three main reasons: it smells nice, quality, and creative. Basically Long Courrier is a really peculiar sort of talc-powdery “fresh” gourmand with a salty-aquatic texture, which manages to blend brilliantly all the nicest features of all these diverse inspirations; the dusty, nutty and masterfully tamed down sweetness of a gourmand (mostly cacao here) which bears also a really light sort of boozy-almondy note, then an evocative and totally compelling watery-aquatic feel, and cozy talc-amber-floral powderiness which connects Long Courrier to the great tradition of Oriental powdery scents, from Villoresi’s Teint de Neige to Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant, with a subtle “guerlinade” underneath providing an elegant touch of classicism to the overall laid-back “sunny exoticism” of this scent. Now imagine this, with a truly remarkable watery texture that is basically limited to an aqueous-salty-musky note, subtle but more than enough to change the entire mood and bring in a “seaside” feel, pleasantly refreshing the musky-powdery-gourmand side. And giving it a truly unique look. The whole blend smells really classy, much distinctive and cleverly composed, and it also shows a really nice evolution which slowly brings Long Courrier to a woodier, drier territory. The sillage is quite discreet, which is good, but the persistence seems a bit too short for me. Still overpriced for me even taking into account it is a nice scent, but bottle-worthy in case of (massive) discounts.
Dune pour Homme is for me among the most enigmatic and elusive mainstream fragrances ever made, for how it elaborates a generic “designer” theme in a fascinating way. It should be supposed to be a versatile, clean and “easy” exotic fig-green scent with a soapy-musky base, and it partially is so indeed; actually the smell itself is really simple, totally good and totally wearable. A gentle, graceful, mannered and slightly creamy fig-musk-green scent. But to me, and I admit this may be a totally personal perception, it has something else which makes it completely unique and, well, kind of creepy at the same time. That “creepy” feature is connected to its signature sort of warm, blurred and watery texture, which is due to the use of hedione and musk (ketones, I guess); it feels slightly humid, lactescent and “grey” too, and for some odd reasons it makes me think of some old, faded 8 mm homemade videotape shot in a cloudy, muggy August afternoon lost in the mid-1990s. The “analogic filter” role played by the film grain corresponds to hedione here, which is I think the key of Dune’s magic – a sort of fruity-watery-grey note which gives Dune this sort of damp, plastic, sultry feel.
This together with some more ordinary, decent-quality and undoubtedly “summery” nuances like green notes and fig leaves, produce a really fascinating “summer feel”, but where “summer” means “a summer of your childhood lost in your imagination”. Nothing crisp and realistic, on the contrary a blurry, cozy, faded souvenir. It’s like if the use of hedione and musk here gives the blend a sort of nostalgic and almost hallucinating feel which makes you plunge into your own memories. Grey, sort of humid and sweltering, at the same time “faded” and quiet. Out of all the dozens of similarly synthetic scents I’ve tried and owned, this is the only one which triggers that path of associations, showing how creatively one can make good use of synthetic aromachemicals (assuming there was an intention to be creative, otherwise I guess it’s just bare luck). Anyway, aside from all of that which is maybe just a subjective frenzy of mine, Dune pour Homme is surely a good, clean and cozy greenish-exotic all-rounder with a really respectable quality and a perfect balance of distinction and “safeness”. Nothing groundbreaking and a bit short-lived (as you can expect with these notes) but inexpensively solid.
So, as if the market needed another load of green-aquatic-fruity fragrances, and as if we needed another sub-collection by Guillaume, here’s the first 4 of a series of 8 new “blue” scents by monsieur PG. And here’s the first one I’ve had the pleasure to test. To cut it short, Paris Seychelles lazily and mutely follows the endless, cheaper line of green-white floral scents with a “milky sun cream” vibe, starting from Jil Sander’s Sun, ending with any 0,99 pennies sun cream. That’s it, and it adds nothing to that: the floral notes smell boringly “white” with no particularly features of interest, the same for coconut and the green notes. Flat, cheaply glossy, annoyingly plastic. I’d rate this higher if it wasn’t for its hilariously pretentious price, but I can’t really judge fragrances “per se” without taking into account the cost. This costs 160 EUR while it’s rather something a tasteless Texan lady with a penchant for “Fràààànce” may actually buy at the Seychelles - for 10 EUR at the local airport’s duty free with a complimentary daisy chain.
Fruity-minty metallic fizziness, translucent soapiness, azure water, crystal and glass, a sparkling fruity cocktail, with a subtle, sophisticated sort of “synthetic leather chair” feel. The smell of cold metal, rubber, fresh air. Both formally gentle, and almost arrogant with its cold cutting sharpness, especially at the beginning. What instantly got my attention here is that Z by Zegna manages to stay connected to a certain type of “middle class mainstream” references, which in the end would be, I guess, more or less aligned to Zegna's customers' world, while smelling almost avantgarde, decidedly “niche” and different enough from other similar designer scents: it smells sharp, crisp, minimalistic, “cold” and synthetic, but by no means “cheap” or generic – not at all. If that makes sense, on the contrary it smells “high quality synthetic”. Both for the quality and the creativity involved. An azure-black scent: if you take a look at the bottle, that’s the perfect visual depiction of the fragrance. Glass, azure water, grey metal, black rubber. This may be classified as a fruity-spicy-woody aquatic scent, as it basically seems composed by tart citrus notes, something fruity and bittersweet like apple or blackcurrant, soft woods, sharp spices, green notes and a very hint of patchouli; surely on the “fresh & office-safe” mainstream side, but this doesn’t prevent it to be classy and above all, something on its own creativity-wise. It does not really remind me of anything else, and I quite disagree about considering this a copycat of Aqua di Giò or similar fragrances. It clearly belongs to that same family in broad terms, but this doesn’t make it a redundant blatant copy. While the concept of “sport/aquatic/office-fresh” fragrance is surely involved, in my opinion Z by Zegna sits actually quite away from most other fragrances of those genres. It conveys those clichés, but in a unique way – colder, fruitier, sharper, with a really peculiar feel of “icy futuristic elegance”. It smells sophisticated, formal and sporty at once, cold and synthetic yet somehow slightly “warm” in a really natural way – the warmth of lukewarm crystal water and sea breeze. This "warm" feature will emerge clearly on the drydown, more centered on extremely subtle dusty-powdery-woody notes. Kind of yuppie, a bit light and a bit too linear to be entirely compelling, but in my opinion surely fascinating and more than pleasant to wear.
Yes, this Guerlain Homme series is definitely the last great Guerlain’s series for men. While the Intense flanker is just near pure perfection, this Boisée is more contextualized into a “summer-fresh” cluster, so perhaps it’s slightly less versatile and less “fascinating” than that; but still, it perfectly keeps and even enhances some facets of the unsurpassed quality of Homme and Homme Intense. So, this is a summer scent: easily among the most sophisticated ones you can get in today’s mainstream market. The only “competitors” I would find would be either some good classics (but lacking in some “contemporary twist”) or maybe some Hermès... but while they tend to be more unisex and lighter, this Eau Boisée feels bolder and with a more decided masculine shade. The clever elegance with which Wasser kept the “masculine” rhum note giving it a summery vibe thanks to mint and herbal notes is brilliant, so is also the tremendously enjoyable vetiver grass note – which is vetiver, but with a twist; grassy, kind of anisic, slightly citrusy, irresistibly natural and bracing. I perfectly get the comparison with Terre d’Hermès and maybe there wouldn’t have been any L’Eau Boisée without that, but honestly, there’s really no game for me. L’Eau Boisée smells far more crisp, natural, invigorating and complex than Terre. There’s surely something synthetic going on here too, but to my nose this smells so bright and natural. It feels golden, and it feels stereo. And plus however there’s a couple of differences; this Boisée is grassier, greener, more peppery, slightly smokier, and with a boozy note. Utter class, utter quality, utter skills. An effortless summer gem.