Reviews by Colin Maillard

    Showing 1 to 30 of 966.
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    Le Tabac by L'Antichambre

    What a nice boozy-ambery tobacco. It reminds me quite a lot of Parfum d’Empire’s Ambre Russe at the beginning, just more fruity-syrupy and more “mature”, more deep, and overall, well, quite better honestly, even if they’re not exactly comparable. It feels terribly “French” to me, not sure why – perhaps the base accord, which seems echoing a “guerlinade”. On which you have then tobacco (smoky, velvety, rich), amber, citrus – sweeter, actually, like orange – and a boozy note. Elegant, intense, irresistibly pleasant to wear, with a really solid quality in my opinion. It’s a golden, warm, comforting scent, intimately cozy like a fancy hotel suite. With a hint of sensuality and a bright, breezy lively touch of something fruity-anisic. Its mood makes me think of a “Mitteleuropean” kind of elegance; dark and baroque, warm and golden like a Viennese villa, but at the same time restrained, slightly sugary, silky like a pastel print. Smoky and graceful patchouli-amber drydown. Really good!

    8/10

    02nd March, 2015

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    Narciso Rodriguez for Him by Narciso Rodriguez

    Narciso Rodriguez for Him is a mainstream gem, and an unnecessary evidence of how Francis Kurkdjian works so better on commission (who’s the least fan of his own “cheap-luxury” brand? Me). Anyway: the opening is fantastic and unmistakable, a leafy, dark, astringent “greenish wet concrete” which smells of pungent humid darkness – a moldy, harsh, filthy kind of urban darkness, with a genius hint of dry lipstick. Despite it is a designer scent aimed (one may guess) at a broad audience, it delivers an incredibly gloomy and funereal mood, really fascinating and terribly well executed: a gothic, crunchy, really bitter violet leaves note on dark, dry patchouli and an aloof, musky “grey concrete” note. Pure poison for a quite simple composition which however is iconic and really unique, smelling like lipstick, dead leaves, vitriol, wet streets. A “post-modern” world which makes you think of those alienating metropolitan areas just at the very borders of the suburbs, where abandoned warehouses meet abandoned woods – you’re not yet into “pure nature”, but out of civilization already. Narciso smells of all of that. Which makes it surprisingly “niche” (I said that in a positive meaning for once), far more than all the dozens of depressing, uninspired overpriced bullshit which make their way to niche price tags. Not a crowpleaser for sure, but safe enough somehow; it is dark but terribly refined and sophisticated. It makes a “statement” so it’s definitely one to try before buying; but I wouldn’t really consider this daring or weird. It’s perfectly compelling, just a bit dark with a sprinkle of freakness. The only flaw I would mention would be maybe its objective quality, meaning that in my opinion the materials here aren’t exactly top notch – especially on the drydown, which is quite linear, a bit cheap, and maybe boring after some hours. But who cares for once – this is evocative, even its “cheapness” may have a creative role here, as in fact we’re talking about concrete and dead leaves – nothing fancy and nothing luxurious. A real gem, if it was discontinued it would be praised like a holy grail.

    8/10

    02nd March, 2015

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    Miracle Homme by Lancôme

    Miracle Homme opens with a pepper-green-woody and slightly aquatic accord which smells really astringent, dry, bitter, with a peculiar sort of austere and almost boozy woody note (like mahogany) sweetened by a slight juicy tea-red pepper note on a fresh, elegant, formal and quite conventional cedar-vetiver base – that “hi everyone, I’ve just been hired here” type of office-safe elegance. Nice contrasts though, and a peculiar, interesting sort of sour, dry sharpness all over, perfectly contrasted by a fresh feel (not a matter of specific notes, just more literally a “feel”). Then, once Miracle starts to “warm” on skin, it brings cedar and vetiver to a prominent position, making them more “round” and warmer than the opening phase, pairing them with something smelling like a sort of powdery, gourmandish, dusty suede note on the very base, which I guess may be the coffee note. No oak moss at any point to my nose. What interests me here is that there’s some creativity in here, nice contrasts and shades, masterfully concealed behind a conventional look; you do feel this “fresh woods” are definitely, entirely “2000s designer”, but still there’s something more, some elusive hints you keep coming back to smell. Maybe it’s that coffee note, which – if I detect it correctly – is just more of a sort of mellow, kind of roasted but also sweet and silky-powdery gourmandish suede note, as I said above. Or that sort of syrupy and fresh “tea-red pepper” note that comes and goes. All I can say is that this scent is... odd, in a positive way: it smells kind of dull at first, but if you pay attention and make some (well, actually “quite many”) efforts, it reveals a really interesting and complex texture. It smells like a conventional aromatic-fresh “boisé” at first, with a nice warm feel, and it’s undoubtedly a pleasant, effortlessly elegant crowpleaser: but there’s something which makes me think there has been quite some creativity and attentive craft behind this. It’s like if all these “conventional” notes are slightly displaced from their usual perspectives, making them all smell just a bit different. The fact that this hides behind an almost dull look, I don’t know if it’s intentional or a “faux pas” though. I still consider this compelling enough, pleasant and cozy, not boring at all, even if we just take it as a dull mainstream woody scent – the quality is good the same. The main flaw of this scent is that it is really too light and “thin” to make you able to appreciate all its qualities at the fullest – and it surely would deserve that. I appreciate the understatement here and overall I consider this a tad more intriguing and compelling than most of other “office woodies” to which this may be compared to; but still, it would have definitely needed a boost.

    6,5-7/10

    01st March, 2015

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    Tempore Uomo by Laura Biagiotti

    Tempore Uomo by Biagiotti opens with a “totally-1990s” look, a complex (I'd say "messy", though) powdery-floral-woody watery blend with a bit of green-fruity stuff mixed with spiced flowers, all with an “aquatic”, kind of syrupy texture, heavily synthetic (think of laundry detergent). I get quite many flowers – lavender, violet, carnation above all – then spices, pepper, woods (sandalwood and vetiver), green notes, but the main feature here is that nondescript feel which I get from many scents from the ‘90s – the cheaper ones. A sort of synthetic, lacustrine, warm and slightly moldy feel of water, kind of cloying too honestly. Not the airy “ozonic” note, rather something more substantial, liquid, thick and as I said, annoyingly synthetic. Here with also an odd feel of cheap women’s make up. Shortly: nothing tragic but a bit cheap, kind of messy, forgotten for more-than-legitimate reasons. Don’t bother.

    5/10

    28th February, 2015

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    Cuir Mandarine by David Jourquin

    Cuir Mandarin opens with a bitter, herbal patchouli paired with something silky-dusty and slightly sweet (I thought of some synthetic, “cashmerish” wood, but it must be rather ambroxan as it’s more ambery than woody), then cloves, a citric note, and something metallic, pungent, slightly dirty, a bit salty-sweaty, and overall not really that pleasant to smell on yourself. I get the lavender (just a barbershop soapy feel) and the tobacco note, which will emerge better after some 30/40 minutes, and it’s a really conventional, a bit unsubstantial synthetic tobacco note with that sweetness you find in many (way) cheaper tobacco scents. Nothing “cuir” really, except for the cloves perhaps, but it does indeed remind me of several ‘90s fougères – the cheaper ones; I get the attempt to look “dignified” and refined, but honestly this smells all... too low-mainstream quality to succeed. On the drydown Cuir Mandarin becomes basically a tobacco-lavender “barbershop” scent with herbs, dusty patchouli and spices on amber. Something like a sort of cheaper, thinner, more boring Guerlain’s Héritage. Pathetic price.

    5/10

    27th February, 2015

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    Womanity by Thierry Mugler

    Womanity (what?) opens with salty aldehydes scented with anise, a metallic-gassy cloud with a shade of sky blue. Angular, cold, azure, salty and sweetish at the same time, but most of all annoyingly harsh, chemical, quite suffocating honestly. Plus, it lacks in any texture or whatever interest, as it’s basically a sort of anise pancake frosted into some industrial freezing gas. And a faint hint of ginger and cinnamon. “Female secretions”? If you date refrigerators, maybe. Obnoxious if you ask me, but if you are into niche, this same kind of nonsense sometimes manages to be sold as “avantgarde”, so... who knows. For me, a huge “no” whatever side I watch it from.

    4/10

    26th February, 2015 (Last Edited: 27th February, 2015)

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    Sådanne by Slumberhouse

    A tough one to review. I wore this for one day and made a complete twist about this. From the very first sniff you clearly get some of the “signature” features of Slumberhouse’s scents, mostly the base Lobb seems to use for many fragrances: that sort of dark, medicinal boozy-ambery thickness, here with something animalic... but twisted in a complete different way than usual, pretty upsetting at first – and frankly hard to wear for the first minutes. Basically, Sadanne opens as a rotting lollipop: there’s all this fruity, jammy juiciness halfway raspberry bubblegums and cough syrups for children, juxtaposed to – or drowned in, I’d say – the “industrial Baroque” which characterizes Lobb’s world, the oily, deadly base rot which you get in most of his scents. The juxtaposition is daring and insolent, and quite messy at first: I admit I get a charming feel of creepiness, a sort of psychedelic, playful horrific decadence, like watching a Z-series splatter movie directed by John Waters. But at first I can’t really consider this something one would ever want to wear. There’s just... too much of everything – too sweet-juicish on one side, too rotting-dark on the other. Too powerful and cacophonic, which means almost repulsive. Nonetheless... with a little bit of patience, as hours pass Sadanne becomes more and more consistent, wearable, “harmonic” and compelling, reaching a really interesting substance. It still remains a challenging clash between jamminess and gloominess, but all the notes and nuances kind of “melt” tuning on the same tone, reaching some sort of odd balance, like a chorus of freaks finally finding some harmony – a warm, medicinal, colourful shade of madness, completely nondescript, with a range of nuances from carnal to caramel. To me, a really innovative experiment which tries to rewrite the “fruity-jammy gourmand” in a filthy, gloomy light, a dirty “psychocandy” which I can’t not like – even only for the concept. And as I said, after a couple of hours it becomes even quite “easier”to wear, and frankly also rather pleasant and fun, more civilized than the opening phase – basically a sort of boozy-ambery civet topped with a bittersweet, sugary-fruity “dark” syrupy accord (think of Lutens for children). And a subtle powdery-musky undertone. And something smelling like blood. I would talk of... don’t know, “splatter pop Baroque”? Sadanne feels like an olfactive depiction of those tacky teen horror movies of the 1980s’ - Troma and friends. Just even more crazy – darker on one side, more childish on the other. Maybe hard to appreciate in its entirety, but really promising, intriguing, genuinely creative and different from the rest. Completely out of fashion and clichés. As Lobb often reformulates and fixes his scents, I am sure that a couple of fixes may make Sadanne a milestone for contemporary niche.

    8,5/10

    24th February, 2015

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    Wonderoud by Comme des Garçons

    Wonderoud opens as a woody-peppery vetiver-based designer with a sprinkle of sandalwood. Not the slightest hint of oud here to my nose, just a subtle sort of soft, finished medicinal-leathery note on the base (I guess that would be the oud), and a hint of incense – we’re young and hip, no incense, no party! Basically this is Wonderwood with a cheap, light “medicinalish darkish” thing underneath the rest. Which by the way vanishes quite soon, leaving you with a persistent drydown comprising vetiver with a slight ambery-incense undertone... and that’s it. Undoubtedly pleasant, but honestly I can’t find this more than just barely decent. To my nose it’s a perfectly safe and friendly “office scent” which may have been created by Montblanc or Zegna or St Dupont as far as I am concerned, or any other “low-profile” brand like these aimed at thirty-something men with low pretenses and low budgets looking for a safe woody cologne for job interviews. Nothing wrong with that, I am a fan of designer cheapos: but not at this price (and well, not from such a – usually – creative brand). And why call this “oud”?

    5,5-6/10

    23rd February, 2015 (Last Edited: 24th February, 2015)

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    Carven Homme (original) by Carven

    The opening of Carven Homme is practically identical to Envy Men, to say the least, but it quickly takes a quite different path. Still it opens with a really similar, quite recognizable blend of citrus, ginger, sandalwood, cinnamon, lavender, pepper, violet, nutmeg: a sweet spicy-woody harmony with a creamy-powdery feel, rich and warm, mellow and easy-going. What strikes the most from the very first sniff is the astonishing quality of the notes: they smell intense, rich, “round”, with no synthetic or “plastic” flaws. From the very first minutes Carven Homme shows its great, solid, pleasant personality: it’s discreet and classy in a versatile, effortless way, and since apparently this kind of woody-spicy-bright “sweet” designer scents which were quite “the cool thing” back around early 2000s is not really that “trendy” anymore, this fragrance is even quite distinctive – positively outdated, if you want. And above all, simply irresistible. You’ll just crave for it. The drydown is perfect: always a spicy-sweet sandalwood and cedar accord scented with lavender and rounded by amber, but with a hint of sharp tobacco and finished leather – something which emerges after a while. The tobacco note takes soon a prominent role, adding a fantastic touch of “sweet darkness” which perfectly enhances the overall spicy-powdery woodiness. So classy. Besides Envy Men, I also agree on the slight similarity with Jaipur Homme: Carven is decidedly more spicy, more ambery-tobacco and more woody, with far less “dandy soapiness” – shortly a completely different mood; but there is undoubtedly a powdery-spicy-lavender feature here as well, which may make you think of some aspects of Boucheron’s masterpiece. Finally, the longevity is excellent to any extent: it lasts long, and never showing any syntheticness – it just keeps smelling rich, round and refined for hours. Perhaps not the most creative fragrance around, surely carrying a sort of “2000s trademark”, but the quality is so high it’s just irresistible. It’s warm, rich, relaxed, extremely versatile, one of those scents which you just don’t get tired of wearing. Good for any circumstance, as it bears different facets – it’s “dark” and sensual enough for a romantic dinner, but with that safe “woody cleanliness” which makes it perfect for office or cinema or whatever. Shortly, it smells *fantastic* and that’s it... we are so stuffed with artsy-fartsy niche crap, we’ve forgotten how rare this quality is – to smell *fantastic*. Terrific quality. Highly recommended.

    8,5/10

    22nd February, 2015

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    Furyo by Jacques Bogart

    Straight to the point: a masterpiece. Furyo (vintage bottle here) is a hyper-modern, really peculiar and fascinating masculine chypre which can compare to, well, almost nothing else as far as I am concerned. In rough terms, the “family” as others already stated may be the one of the good old civet bombs, like Kouros or Ungaro II (and of Rabanne’s Ténéré too, to another extent): nonetheless, here you can find a couple of unique features which make Furyo completely standout, not making it necessarily “superior” but definitely different from any other scent. There is indeed a filthy, “urinous” civet heart, which however here is wrapped – and I would say, almost concealed – into an irresistible, warm, nondescript cradle made of rose, cinnamon, amber, lavender, herbs, woods (I get sandalwood more than vetiver); a soft Oriental blend which floats between sweet, bright, soapy, balsamic, dirty, spicy and dusty-resinous - almost with a beeswax note too. There is also a kind of dark fruity-candied feel, subtle but somehow “narcotic” and slightly decadent, really charming and much modern too (apparently Wasser is the nose behind this, and in fact, I get a slight sort of common ground with certain aspects of Dalì pour Homme, which he made as well the year before). The result, which as I said is quite nondescript, is an exceedingly alluring, mellow, intense and warm fragrance, with an outstanding quality to any extent: materials, balance, depth, composition. Quite hard to define, honestly, but basically: a sweet-spicy dark masculine chypre. But that really wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of Furyo. An irresistible harmony of nuances ranging from the decadent carnality of rose and carnation to the elusive warmth of spices and amber, from the soapy-aromatic cleanliness of lavender and herbs, to the filthy dirt of civet and oak moss. And then balmy notes, woods, sandalwood, something resinous-sweet (Rabanne’s Ténéré, again) ... thick and complex, incredibly rich, but perfectly harmonic, unique, easy to love. And not a powerhouse, meaning that despite it’s surely really powerful, I wouldn’t really place this close to the conventional, “hairy-chested”, slightly outdated and often a bit stern (not to say tacky) boldness of most powerhouses. Furyo is so much more creative, more refined, more complex, more modern than any of them. Really outstanding, smelling incredibly “new”, and so pleasant to wear. Plus, the sillage is nuclear and the persistence is everlasting. One of those scents which may easily fit the niche market (I thought of Amouage for instance, if only they would be able to make something half beautiful as this).

    9/10

    21st February, 2015 (Last Edited: 22nd February, 2015)

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    Encens Chembur by Byredo

    ... and another dull, synthetic, vaguely “fizzy” incense with the usual base nuances of “pencil sharpener” cedar wood, here contrasted by spices and a sort of citrus-candied note (elemi). A bit ambery and vanillic, with a pleasant undertone of musky-soapy notes which provide a decent sort of “dusty” mood, a bit moldy too (ambroxan, I guess), enhanced by the slightly “rotten” sweetishness of some nuances of elemi. Then pepper, ginger, nutmeg. Basically, think of some (neo)classic woody-spicy scents like Cacharel pour l’Homme or Envy Men, rewritten with a prominent synthetic incense note to fit the current requirements of fashion (back then). In my opinion: uncreative, plastic, overpriced, still decently pleasant albeit in the least interesting meaning ever.

    5,5-6/10

    21st February, 2015

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    Missoni Uomo by Missoni

    Missoni Uomo opens as a good old-school balsamic leather chypre, bitter and herbal, with a “waxy” feel and a certain similarity with many classic leathers on the powdery-smoky-herbal side, from Habanita to Etro Gomma via Knize Ten. The fragrance is undoubtedly rich and nice, I personally don’t get any “cheap” flaws or unpleasant nuances; it’s elegant, classy, dark, “virile” but gentle and definitely solid, with a quite peculiar and utterly pleasant sort of balsamic-soapy-vanillic touch with a subtle fruity aftertaste too, which makes Missoni Uomo slightly reminding Bel Ami as well. A gentler kind of leather. The drydown is perfectly mastered as well, dry and somehow discreet but dense and compelling – basically still leather, oakmoss, and a powdery-musky-ambery dust. Perhaps not the most creative around, but a honest, refined, high-quality “copycat” worthy a sniff for sure.

    7,5/10

    21st February, 2015

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    Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extrême by Bottega Veneta

    Just a more concentrated version of Bottega Veneta pour Homme for whom can't appreciate the classy lightness of the original. Completely identical to it to any extent, just a bit bolder. Given there's no other difference, I prefer the original just because of its subtlety.

    6/10

    21st February, 2015

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    Athunis by Sigilli

    Athunis opens with an incredibly bold, sharp, stern, austere and hyper-dry woody blend, stuffed with salty, incredibly realistic dark vetiver just a tad spiced and surrounded by a bitter roasted-herbal accord, really dark and dry, almost astringent. Easily the most dark, dry, smoky and straightforward vetiver I’ve ever experienced, somehow close to Etro Vetiver and Annick Goutal’s vintage Vetiver, but ever bolder, gloomier and “woodier” than those. And smokier too, with a creepily realistic feel of bitter burnt wood. Even too much for me honestly: it’s so dark, sour, dry and salty it’s literally really close to the (unpleasant, to me) smell that remains on your hands after you’ve handled the remains of a bonfire. Basically, a smell of woody dirt. Worthy a try for sure, though, especially for vetiver lovers, just to get an idea of what a creative mind can do with that note. The evolution is slow, but appealing and perfectly mastered: it becomes warmer, softer, slowly making a richer, brighter vetiver note emerge, as if you’re assisting to a sort of “bonfire in reverse”. Please note that the “woody smokiness” here is quite different from pretty much any other similar scent featuring this same concept (Profumum Arso, Bois d’ascèse, Sonoma Scent Fireside Intense and so on); here it’s not basically all about Iso E Super, but the feeling is of something more realistic, more “carved in real wood”, more bitter, with a range of nuances from salty and sour to stale and barnyard. It has a couple of “controversial” features, especially an exhausting linearity and to me, an excessive dryness; but it’s a totally creative, compelling, worthwhile take on the “smoky vetiver” theme. Another nice example of Buccella’s underrated talent.

    7,5/10

    20th February, 2015

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    Virgin Island Water by Creed

    Virgin Island Water opens with a sort of citric-musky accord juxtaposed to creamy-gourmandish notes (ylang) with a tropical vibe (coconut), then sandalwood, ginger and a light floral breeze. Surely reminding of sea overall, but in a thicker, “watery-milky” way rather than predictably “calone-ozonic”. Surprisingly, it’s not bad at all: it is fresh in a rather round, rich and pleasant way, with a really peculiar and nice feel of silky, refreshing and realistic creaminess enhanced by a quite faithful and appealing fruity tropical vibe. A sort of zesty, invigorating “Tiki gourmand” mood, somehow making me think of a tropical ice cream. Still, sadly I also get a persistent and rather annoying astringent citric note which smells exactly like any mosquito repellent, as it happens in many cheap quality citrus scents. The evolution is close to nothing, meaning that as hours pass Virgin becomes just slightly drier and muskier, finally landing on a citric-musky drydown which features just less freshness and less creaminess than the initial stages. In my opinion, citrus-tropical scents are quite a tricky field: it must not be easy to make one that doesn’t end up in smelling either dull and generic or cheap. This quite nails it on the contrary, managing to be fairly distinctive in a way, and with a nice quality of notes, except that mosquito thing. It’s still basically an enhanced version of any sea-citrus-tropical fragrance, but still it’s better than most of them, at least for what I have tried. The “tropical” side especially is particularly nice. Not bad for being a Creed... but still, all considered, surreally overpriced.

    6-6,5/10

    20th February, 2015

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    Gringo by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

    If you’re familiar with Dubrana’s work, the palette here is quite the same of many others among his masculine offers (notably Tabac and Don Corleone), here with a bolder animalic-musky twist: civet (rich, dirty, sweaty), patchouli, oak moss and a light floral breeze which together with the earthy-indolic base, kind of reminded me of Rabanne’s Ténére and Bogart’s Furyo at first. The rose petals floating over a pile of steamy animalic stuff is somehow the same here as regards of the abovementioned fragrances, well supported by sandalwood and its peculiar sweet-syrupy woodiness. A few notes, all vibrant, sharp and clear, as per Dubrana’s style. Another great example of dark, natural, intense masculinity in a bottle (I know it’s outdated to classify scents by gender, but sometimes it works – surely it does for this brand). The smell here is earthy, woody, sweaty and from times to times even moldy-indolic thanks to civet; easy to think of many old-school masculine chypres. Still it’s all more natural here, so in a way, smelling more rich, more “alive”, more effortless, less “formal” and less tamed down (and less synthetic). For some reasons not a “wow” entirely, perhaps for a sort of boring linearity, but overall surely a fascinating and solid scent.

    7,5-8/10

    19th February, 2015

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    Don Corleone by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

    Tobacco, woods, tuberose: earth, smoke, filthy animalicness. Nothing more manly and virile than this, like in most of Dubrana’s scents aimed at men, this goes right back to old-school powerhouses’ raw darkness and thick “machism”. Much linear though, in a way almost close to some US niche acts like Sonoma Scent Studio or Slumberhouse, albeit with a far more natural, raw, almost “archaic” organic mood. On the very base, a cozy and slightly sweet accord of balmy-boozy-rooty notes with something smelling like bitter, dusty cocoa beans (it may be patchouli). Dirty, earthy, mature and indolic, it progressively gets warmer and slowly becomes more and more elegant, tamed down and civilised, still shady but gentler, with a long, fantastic transition towards a powerful and really long lasting drydown carrying mostly tobacco, woody and animalic nuances. Throughout the evolution, the tuberose note is great, delivering all its signature animalic earthiness, perfectly blending here with the warm, balmy sweetness of tobacco and cozy woods (something like tolu, too). A bit similar to Tabac by the same house, but decidedly more earthy, indolic, even almost “narcotic” (tuberose, again) with a sweeter ambery base. Great quality. Intense, dark, powerful yet gentle, classy, evocative. Beautiful!

    8/10

    19th February, 2015

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    Kiehl's Original Musk by Kiehl's

    Original Musk by Kiehl’s is a really nice soapy-indolic musk scent, rich and straightforward, with a palette of grey-dusty nuances on the base and a luscious, exotic touch of tonka: fairly “chypre-sque” to some extents, as it makes me think of the drydown of many classic (mostly feminine) scents – mostly for the juxtaposition of musk and flowers, and the overall feel of dusty, slightly moldy nostalgia. More soapy than animalic though, so personally I didn’t think of other heavier musk scents. Powerful yet not tacky, on the contrary much pleasant and even quite refined. I find it intense and compelling, fairly dark, much versatile if you are into musk-soapy blends – otherwise it may be soon exhausting given there’s not much else apart musk and some flowers. The evolution is there, though: still musky, but progressively dustier, drier, silkier, always pleasantly “retrò”. I am personally not a fan of musk and this type of scents, but this is really nice and clearly a quality fragrance, so well worthy a try if you’re into musk.

    7/10

    16th February, 2015

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    Forest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio

    Forest Walk opens with a beautiful pine-woody coniferous blend enriched by thick resinous nuances, amber, something candied, a medicinal feel. The key word is “balsamic”, with a sort of baroque gloomy touch. Slightly “caramelized”, too. Oriental and smoky (I think I get some incense too), several Lutens scents come to mind, filtered “the American way” like for many Slumberhouse scents – to which in fact Forest Walk does resemble a bit style-wise, with that same sort of darkness which smells both contemporary and post-industrial, and natural, almost “archaic”. A walk in a shady forest – Twin Peaks forests, if you want. Dark, balsamic, with a dense and thick, almost oily texture, made denser and juicier by a subtle sort of boozy-licorice whiff. Although as I said it reminds me a bit of Josh Lobb’s scents, Forest Walk smells actually a bit better than many Slumberhouse fragrances; more delicate, more natural and less linear enough to smell more “wearable”, less haunting, and in the end, less boring after some hours (don’t expect any particularly dynamic evolution, though). The powdery-floral touch of violet is brilliant, providing a glimmer of light and grace which brings Forest Walk from “good” to “really good”. Recommended.

    7,5-8/10

    16th February, 2015

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    Casamorati 1888 Bouquet Ideale by Xerjoff

    Bouquet Ideale opens as a sweet, dusty Oriental woody-gourmandish blend with burnt sugar vanillic notes, balmy woods, something like cashmere wood, and a whiff of powdery notes (violet?) which are more sweet-talc than flowery, and finally a hint of fruity-candied notes with exotic spices (cinnamon, perhaps saffron too or something similar). Dusty, warm, cozy and refined, effortlessly pleasant. Like other users apparently, I also thought of some Arabian fragrances: here you get quite the exact same kind of woody-spicy-fruity-gourmand stuff, with that peculiar roasted-incensey feel. Here it’s just all a bit more “refined” (which means only less powerful and more tamed down), and it smells undoubtedly nice; but the price is ridiculous. Unless you’ve some really dirty money to spend quickly before the FBI catches you, just browse among Arabian Oud, Al-Rehab or Lattafa offerings, get one of those and apply it sparingly – same results, a third of the cost.

    5,5-6/10

    16th February, 2015

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    Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Velvety, sweet, slightly soapy woody notes (sandalwood, maybe cashmere wood), mellow aromatic herbs (sage?), a rose breeze, a whiff of incense and a subtle rubbery-medicinal whiff on the base – the agar wood – which smells really discreet, also somehow sugary, blended with a leather note which is “tiny” but rich, somehow like in Dzing! by the same house. Basically Al Oudh smells like a sort of transparent, “clean” rewriting of many Western oud scents, particularly those on the sweet-woody side, just much more tamed down and with a more discreet, posh, light appearance as per style of L’Artisan Parfumeur (for me it’s just a consistently repeated flaw more than a style mark, but to each his own). I appreciate in particular the refined complexity of the texture, which smells initially thin but solid, and the nice bright counterpart of powdery notes which perfectly balances the cozy woodiness. So what’s the issue? The evolution. Not because of its persistence, but because in a matter of minutes it all becomes in my opinion a close-to-skin, completely negligible synthetic woody incense with a vague spicy feel (tonka above all). Somehow oudish, but yawn. Something fades away, something just becomes duller, it all lands on a “woody designer from the 2000s” territory. I am even a moderate fan of the genre actually, but they cost a third of this - for a reason. The opening phase is nice, but then, meh...

    5,5-6/10

    14th February, 2015

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    Bohemian Spice by April Aromatics

    Bohemian Spice is basically a nice, “raw” spiced patchouli with woody and camphoraceous notes, among which a vetiver note which emerges soon providing its signature sort of zesty-salty woody rootiness, quite astringent too here. The peculiarity of Bohemian Spice if compared to many other patchouli scents lies in my opinion in its texture, which isn’t dark, earthy or “thick” as many patchouli fragrances tend to be; on the contrary it’s rather bright, much dry and woody, with a palette of nuances reminding me of many Oriental fougères of the past mostly for the camphoraceous-vanillic base notes, which smell a bit like a sort of civilised, tamed-down castoreum, and a “masculine” floral accord providing a subtle barbershop feel. A licorice whiff comes and goes, I guess due to patchouli. All rather dusty and dry as I said. Shortly a patchouli-vetiver blend vaguely musky and really natural, with a nostalgic heart. My opinion on this scent is that it’s undoubtedly nice to wear, well made, effortlessly elegant and also a tad more creative than most of other patchouli scents – a sort of more “dry”, spicy, pleasantly outdated and thin rewriting of this theme. Nice!

    7/10

    14th February, 2015

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    Tabac by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

    Tabac opens with an austere, raw, kind of “moldy” accord built with (my guess) woody-animalic dark notes: something like civet or musk, oak moss, dead humid leaves, cloves, something skanky, a warm and slightly vanillic amber note, and perhaps also lavender (I get its peculiar sort of astringent, almost “urinous” aromaticness). And tobacco, of course: grounded leaves just fresh out of the bag. All smells really masculine, dark, savage yet refined, cozy but austere, smoky and bold. The scent which is probably closer to this may be Tabac Aurea by Sonoma Scent Studio, although Dubrana’s take on tobacco smells more “natural”, and also decidedly more animalic and raw. Really good and straightforward, with also a sort of “vintage” feel reminding me of the early version of Hermès’ Equipage (which is obviously way more “posh” and tamed down). A thick, solid, versatile scent with a pleasant evolution tending more and more towards drier and darker notes of tobacco and cloves. Bold persistence. One of the most mature and manly scents I’ve ever tried since the golden era of hairy-chested fougères. Beautiful.

    7,5-8/10

    12th February, 2015

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    Gucci Pour Homme II by Gucci

    Gucci pour Homme II is a pleasant, “generically” elegant and cozy designer fragrance, undoubtedly a tad inferior to Gucci pour Homme I, which shows a completely different (and superior) class and quality. But still, it’s nice. Number II is soft, easy going and to some extent a bit cheap; but it is also without doubts pleasant to wear, and that is always a plus in my book. It is basically built on some features of Gucci pour Homme I (you can feel the same synthetic cedar-incense accord), but all twisted with the silky powderiness of violet, a sweet-fruity tone, slightly creamy-lactonic too, and overall with a brighter and cleaner atmosphere. The tea note is really nice, and together with violet and tobacco creates a fresh (yet warm too), cozy, gentle feel of peaceful and sweet softness, almost plushy, well contrasted by a hint of leather (modern, finished, “posh”) and woody-peppery notes. Incomparable to the hyper-refined, adult, sharp and shady smoky woodiness of Gucci pour Homme I... but as I said, really pleasant and worth the low price. The combination of sweet-fruity notes and “pencil sharpener” cedar reminded me a bit of Balmain’s Carbone. Discreet, yet long-lasting persistence. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid!

    6,5-7/10

    12th February, 2015

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    Lys Méditerranée by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Sadly I do not know flowers as much as I would like to, therefore I can really not “judge” the quality of the notes here – lily and muguet, or more in general this perfume as a whole from the point of view of its objective quality. What I can say though is that it opens with a breathtakingly vibrant and realistic feel which threw me right into a greenhouse: the smell not only of petals and leaves but also soil, stagnant water, dust, freshly-cut branches, humidity, and an almost perceivable and really fascinating rendition of that peculiar feel of “humid warmth” there’s often in greenhouses and florist shops – almost stale, opalescent, suspended. All of this with a fresher, brighter, zesty citrus-floral breeze coming from outside, to bring in also a more radiant “outdoor” feel (I guess the “Mediterranée” part of the concept). This perfume seems so simple, yet so deep and complex, carrying a powerful and romantic feel of nostalgia, slightly gloomy too, at the same time lively and relaxed – almost sleepy. It smells apparently clean and elegantly understated, but if you “listen” to it carefully, it has a lot of images and stories to narrate, with some unpredictable darker shades (the dust, the soil, the archaic rawness, the dreamy feel of warmth). As I was saying, I don’t know if the materials are objectively good here (they definitely seem to me though), but all of this I noted above is more than enough for me to consider Lys Mediterranée a fantastic, deep, sincere scent, absolutely worthy a sniff for any fan of flowers (and of perfumes in general, actually).

    8-8,5/10

    11th February, 2015

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    Champagne de Bois by Sonoma Scent Studio

    Champagne de Bois opens with neither champagne nor woods, rather a “muskissime”, soapy, and extremely powerful blend which is overall quite similar to the smell of Marseille soap. Just a bit drier, if that wasn’t dry enough. There’s also sandalwood, warm and creamy here, but most of all musky soap – by soap I mean nothing “bubbly” or sweet like bath soap, but rather a “purely soapy” note, so really dry and almost metallic. As minutes pass the woods emerge, with also something camphorous-aldehydic bringing Champagne de Bois vaguely close, in fact, to some vintage Chanel’s, but just to some extent (musks-aldehydes-woods): to me it’s still basically a really dry woody-soapy greyish galore with woody accents – and nothing really animalic by the way, just something halfway onions and sweat after a while. My two cents: really powerful, a bit tacky, too suffocating and linear not to be boring soon.

    5,5/10

    09th February, 2015 (Last Edited: 11th February, 2015)

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    Patchouly Leaves by Monotheme

    Patchouli Leaves by Monotheme opens with bergamot and ambroxan hiding a bright and light patchouli note, which smells here quite transparent, dusty, “thin” and sweetened by a nostalgic, slightly camphorous floral breeze which kind of reminded me of Essence de Patchouli by Perris Monte Carlo (or Alyssa Ashley, you choose). A fresh, sophisticated, lively and much discreet patchouli, with a subtle grey-musky aftertaste. Nothing raw, earthy or rich as in most of others patchouli scents; on the contrary a clean, leafy and ephemeral rewriting of such material. Really pleasant to wear, albeit ridicolously short lived, and exceedingly close to skin. At 15 EUR for 100 ml, no complaints though (and plus the bottle reads “Eau de Patchouli”, as if this was a “toilet water” more than a proper fragrance, so perhaps the lightness and short persistence are implicit).

    6,5/10

    08th February, 2015

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    Jako by Lagerfeld

    Well this is a peculiar scent indeed. Deceptively simple, to say the least, and easily dismissable as just another synthetic designer (as if these were both negative points per se, by the way...). Basically Jako is a sort of plummy-citrus-soapy-woody (sandalwood) scent with a really clean look and a filthier musky-leather undertone, like a guy living a double life. Spicy notes and sweet nuances are there, mostly coming from tonka and vanilla, but they’re tamed down enough; more than sweet, Jako appears rather powdery to me, with a general slight smokiness, perfectly blended with all the brighter stuff – citrus, sandalwood, plum. The opening shows a juicy fruity accord which however vanishes quite quickly, at least partially, leading Jako to woodier and more “greyish” territories. It may sound a bit messy, but it’s just complex (more than it may seem), while smelling perfectly nice, clean, modern and fairly understated. Basically it smells like a martian hybrid between something like Jaipur Homme (for the spicy powderiness), the citrus-tart milkiness à la Kenzo Jungle Homme, and a couple of Lang’s, notably Cuiron for the plummy-leather stuff, and Eau de Cologne for the clean aseptic muskiness. All with that late-‘90s feel – a bit synthetic, a bit tacky, but in a good way. Somewhere at the crossroad lies Jako, with a couple of differences: it’s more subtle than all of those, and it has a couple of more peculiar nuances – something medicinal for instance, like cough syrup, and a slight, weird moldy feel underneath the rest. Overall I find Jako much interesting, quite pleasant to wear (regardless of its "interest"), fairly modern and really easy to pull off - you can forget about its complexity and stuff and just enjoy a clean, bright, discreet scent. The sweet-powdery notes make it undoubtedly a bit feminine, but in my opinion Jako remains overall actually quite androgynous and even a bit aloof – like a futuristic “robot dandy” if you want. Also, with some nice darker shades; the musk, the leather. It’s close to skin as I said, but you feel its understated radiance for many hours. The main flaw for me is the drydown, which is kind of boring and a little disappointing (light, short-lived and a bit “sweaty”).

    7/10

    07th February, 2015

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    Patchouli Precieux / Patchouli Antique by Les Néréides

    Simple, austere, honest: in one word, good. Patchouli Antique is a totally good and respectable patchouli scent containing basically nothing more and nothing less than what a patchouli fan would want, with all its nuances: from earthy-rooty to balsamic, from stale-moldy to its dusty heart of cocoa-beans like notes. Pretty much nothing else except for a pleasant feel of warm, slightly sweet amber, mixed to a subtle and dusty musky note. Not too sweet, not too raw, just nice and cozy. Nothing really “antique” though, so don’t get fooled by the name: nothing decadent or nostalgic like in LM Parfums’ Patchouli Bohème or Parfumerie Générale’s Intrigant Patchouli. Still a totally good perfume, simple, rich, solid, probably not groundbreaking but an unpretentious, everyday gem for all patchouli lovers. It costs pennies, so grab one if you like this note. The longevity is a bit weak, though, but for the price and the concentration it’s fine.

    7-7,5/10

    07th February, 2015

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    Rochas Lui by Rochas

    The “classic” citrus-woody masculine fragrances (what was once the original and only “eau de cologne”, shortly) have always been quite an issue for me. I respect them and most of them smell really nice for me, but (call me shallow) a really boring kind of nice. I never owned one, mostly because I always find them too light and inoffensive; more than proper “fragrances” as I like to enjoy them, they seem more toilet waters to splash on after a shower and forget about them. Something fresh and clean, and that’s it. Usually with a crap longevity, too. Nothing wrong with that; just not my cup of tea. Well, Lui by Rochas is finally the first citrus scent that amazes me instead – not only I like it, I am literally *amazed*. Briefly put, it is a sort of soapy, woody citrus scent with a dark amber-patchouli shade: from this description it may seem the most generic, demure and boring masculine designer ever, but on the contrary... well, for some reasons that I don’t get (I guess this is the “magic” which sometimes sets the difference between good scents and mediocre scents), it smells incredibly good. Irresistibly good, much (much!) more than it may seem. It has a really peculiar dense texture which makes it velvety, bold, sophisticated in a sort of sharper, more “self-conscious” way than most of other citrus-centered “barbershop” scents – which are often more understated. The “trick” here is probably the warm roundness of amber and the earthy darkness of patchouli, which blend together with a hint of vanillic dust to create a richer scenario for the formal and clean brightness of the citrus-woody (and slightly floral) notes. The result is this irresistibly distinctive, refined, pleasant scent: clean and cozy on one side, making it versatile and safe, but with creative and unusual darker nuances making it something more than that – a true statement of contemporary elegance. Perfect projection and fantastic longevity. Ridicolously good, criminally discontinued, grab it if you find one.

    8,5/10

    06th February, 2015

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