Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Colin Maillard

Total Reviews: 1254

Viaggio d'Africa by Pal Zileri

There has been quite some talk about this fragrance, mostly for being allegedly a ten times cheaper clone of Hermès Vetiver Tonka. Since I happen to quite like Vetiver Tonka but nothing on Earth could ever make me spend that money for it, I decided to give Viaggio d’Africa a chance. If you want to skip the boring part: yes, it’s tremendously similar to Vetiver Tonka, especially for the opening phase. I don’t know if this means that Pal Zileri turned into a charity superhero to offer solid fragrances at cheap prices, or if Vetiver Tonka should cost ten times less its price; in any case, Viaggio d’Africa is just plain great. It has one of those openings that make you wish they could last forever: a warm, exceedingly sophisticated and smooth accord of vetiver, tonka and something powdery with a shade of cocoa, infused with earthy smoke, darker woods (guaiac) and some slightly musky coffee. Basically a true “brown”, rich and dusty fog; imagine the earthy-grassy texture of vetiver, the exotic sweet-vanillic dustiness of tonka, and a blurry, refined sort of powdery-coffee accord as if someone at 30 metres distance from you is wearing Rochas Man, with a faint echo of Dior Homme too. Both of you standing in the breezy middle of a desert. This is Viaggio d’Africa.

I admit Vetiver Tonka has a bit more vetiver (and a more elegant, rich and crisp one – shortly, more quality) while Viaggio d’Africa tends to drift more towards tonka and smoky-spicy-earthy territories; but nonetheless it’s really, really pleasant to wear. It feels elegant, warm, smooth without smelling formal or generic. It’s exotic, distinguished and mellow. And most important, besides being satisfactorily persistent, it’s decidedly unique for being a cheap mainstream. It obviously has some “cheap” nuances and if you smell it carefully you definitely get some usual aromachemicals you can find in many fragrances of the same price range (especially if you compare vetiver here with its Hermès more expensive twin); but the guys at Mavive were more than good in disguising them and bringing the best out of their budget. You can wear it and tell anybody it’s a niche scent, none will doubt it (and for once I won’t imply that this would happen because most niche scents are mainstream scraps in disguise). Recommended.

21st August, 2015

L'Homme Idéal Cologne by Guerlain

A cheap vodka-lime ice cream with a sprinkle of pepper & curry being eaten by someone with severe transpiration issues. Farewell Guerlain.

20th August, 2015

Tome I - La Pureté for Him by Zadig & Voltaire

And another total winner in Nathalie Lorson’s book. First of all, although I usually couldn’t care less of packagings and bottles, I must start by saying that La Pureté’s book-like presentation box is stunning, and so is the bottle with its sturdy, concrete-like matte grey texture. Well-crafted, consistent and visually pleasant – the price I paid (at Sephora’s) wouldn’t even cover the cost of the packaging alone. All revolves around grey, white and black, and in a way so does the fragrance. This is a true little gem for me, which I would dare to place if not next, then “almost” close to post-modern classics like Gucci Rush Men, which La Pureté reminds me a bit to some aspects in fact – mostly for the same transparent and plushy sandalwood notes, and overall the same solid and compelling use of synthetic-clean notes.

There is mostly orange blossoms here, providing a really peculiar sort of “empty” and abstract floral-citrus-spicy breeze; then musky violet (with a really interesting sort of “wet concrete” feel as in Narciso for Him), hyper-clean mellow woods ranging from a milky sandalwood note to a deceptively “generic” cedar note, and a subtle and darker note which I get in many scents by Lorson – a sort of really thin dark, slightly coffee-infused wood with a really smooth-hard texture, vaguely smoky too (I get the exact same nuance in Trussardi Inside Man, Encre Noire and Paul Smith Man). And a subtle, and again “empty” aroma of almonds, which isn’t prominent for me though. All works just perfectly: there’s harmony, quiet richness, youthful elegance. The result is an immensely enjoyable fragrance conveying an overall sense of sweet whiteness and pale cleanliness well contrasted by some subtler nuances of not-so-common floral-spicy and even earthy notes (I think I even get something similar to raw, earth-dusted muguet). The name fits the scent perfectly, as the feel is in fact of something really “pure” – a futuristic, aseptic but at the same time, soothing and comforting (almost medicinal) kind of pureness. So unisex and out of time it could smell refined on anyone – men, women, teenagers, children, robots. Fantastic to wear, maybe a bit linear – but it’s so good! - and ridicolously persistent. A compelling creative take on a trite theme.

20th August, 2015
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He Wood by Dsquared2

Slightly overpriced (although the market is flooded with testers and discount bottles of this), but decent enough and honestly, a bit superior to many other “cheap” mainstreams among the same price range and olfactive family. Musky violet and crisp, slightly salty Ikea woods, with a hint of rubber-petrol leather and a sprinkle of something smelling like oregano, which must be due to the same aromachemical(s) I get also in Lanvin Oxygene and Rochas Aquaman. A sort of juvenile, lighter, more herbal and more aseptic Dior’s Fahrenheit: way more inoffensive than that, but still compelling enough for me. It radiates a clean, graceful sillage as much dull as comforting and undeniably nice. And ridicolously persistent. At some points it also reminds me quite a bit of Jil Sander Man from 2007, just replacing Sander’s soft smoky leather with bright-herbal woods. Boring but efficient.

18th August, 2015

Knize Sec by Knize

Oh well this is nice. Really nice, and surprisingly ahead of its time. It was released in the mid-Eighties but has really nothing of that era’s clichés: this is a really modern, substantial but thin orange-woody-balsamic fragrance with leather, incense and amazingly well-put barbershop echoes. Fresh, tart, aromatic, floral and gentle, really uplifting and easy-going but showing a compelling and quite unique sort of sweet, kind of “young” refinement with some more mature dark shades and a discreet feminine touch (many women’s “ideal man” in a bottle, I guess...). I get the connection to Knize Ten, and I totally love the way they elaborated it; they managed to keep the same “waxy”, slightly soapy accord of leather and musk, adding an aromatic touch of herbs (I think I get some pine-infused tobacco as in Veejaga’s Haschisch Man – a scent which by the way, will come as a reference also on the very drydown) and barbershop notes (sage and lavender, distantly echoing Azzaro pour Homme) and that whole genius head accord of orange notes – notes which range from the sweet, juicy, citrusy pulp of orange, to dandier floral-soapy orange blossoms, to musky-herbal accents of petitgrain. They all elevate Knize Ten’s gloomy and monolithic dryness to a bracing, pastel, dusty, colorful citrus-powdery mood with a herbal vein. Sheer and sophisticated to say the least. And then there’s incense, providing an astonishingly modern feel of bright, ambery woody smoke (nothing thick or cloudy, just a classy fog of sweet smooth incense with a subtle, transparent mystical vibe as in many incense fragrances from today). The evolution, then, is equally well engineered; less and less fresher, progressively drier and darker but unexpectedly more floral too, still bright and gentle as hours pass. At some points you may feel as if you’ve just layered Knize Ten on vintage Eau de Givenchy for women and some contemporary minimalistic niche stuff with orange and incense (I’m sure there is some out there). A luminous, clever dandy gem and a fantastic exploration of Knize Ten’s nuances which could have been released last year for how modern it smells. Complex, interesting and extremely pleasant to wear. Recommended!

16th August, 2015

Blue Jeans by Versace

Easily the nicest among the “jeans” collection by Versace, partially because this is quite a nice fragrance, partially because the others are crap anyway. Blue Jeans is shortly a sort of more juvenile, cheaper, but also somehow “fresher” and livelier version of several powdery-floral Oriental scents which came in fashion in the mid-to-late Nineties – starting with Boucheron’s Jaipur Homme, ending with futuristic musky-laundry German stuff like Lang’s eaux de cologne. Blue Jeans is their high school version, their teen nephew, which is both a positive and negative feature – as I said it is a fresher, “younger”, but also way cheaper, almost a bit tacky. However Blue Jeans smells of that – powder, musk, lavender, some odd wet grass, sweet dusty flowers, which are given a “masculine” shape thanks to patchouli, sandalwood and herbs. The opening is a bit flashy, once it finds its “tune” Blue Jeans is actually quite nice to wear, showing some unexpected maturity on the very drydown, which is a really well-played bright harmony of patchouli, sandalwood and discreet powder still with a musky-soapy cleanliness, almost reflecting distant echoes of Guerlain’s Héritage too (really, really distant though). It’s clean, smooth, fun, I wouldn’t define it elegant or “virile” but it’s light-hearted, crisp, sweet and cozy. In one word, pleasant to wear, and that’s what fragrances are made for. Sadly I’ve tested the “Versus” reformulation, and I’ve heard it was better in the past. Nice anyway.


EDIT: the former "Versace" version is completely different. Way more mature, rich and deep, closer to some of the nicest early Nineties floral-Oriental scents, and without the "teenish" soapy vibe of the subsequent Versus version (just to be clear, I am referring to the name you read on the bottle just above "Blue Jeans" - if there's "Versace" then it's the good one, if there's "Versus" it's reformulated and not as good as the previous).
14th August, 2015 (last edited: 12th September, 2015)

Encre Noire by Lalique

One of the most solid contemporary mainstream fragrances which doesn’t really need my (or anyone else’s) endorsement. It is extremely popular, but finally for a good reason: because it is unmistakably, undeniably really good for the price. If you’re on a budget and you want a good vetiver for even the most sophisticated situation, I can’t think of anything better than Encre Noire. Most of others in the same price range couldn’t really compete with this. A dark and crisp smoky vetiver, as much synthetic as able to disguise it under a genius “inky”, wet-paint look – it has some cheap nuances indeed, but none will notice them. There is cypress, there is Nathalie Lorson’s trademark love for clean, angular, futuristic dusty-woody shapes, and there’s a ton of vetiver and Iso E. You can easily guess what to expect, dark oily woods with a really pleasant sort of “transparent” texture which is able to keep the darkness, but without any thickness or heaviness. Which is probably one of the key strengths of this perfume – it’s dark, but an easy-going, versatile, even “bright” kind of dark (compare this to Jovoy’s Private Label to get my point about dark vetivers). A classy, cleverly modern crowdpleaser good for all seasons. If it was just a bit more persistent though... well anyway, recommended!

12th August, 2015

Musc Intense by Nicolaï

The very opening of Musc Intense is closer to a pear & peach ice cream than to musk, but it is not bad: it is as slightly tacky as quite vibrant, uplifting and rich. There is some really sophisticated whiff of tea-infused rose that tames down the sugary-fruity core blend and brings Musc Intense far enough from a “teen gourmand”, and more closer to a “classy delicate rose with fruits and vanillic musk unnecessarily acting as a teen gourmand”. Still quite sweet, mostly because of pear (and/or peach?) and just this close to a bubblegum, but also fresh, tart and elegant. It smells like an odd combination of a vintage floral like L’arte di Gucci, with a shabby fruity-lollipop gourmand. As for musk, well, I wouldn’t consider this a musky scent for sure, as musk seems here just providing a generic smooth soapy base accord emerging better on the drydown (which is finally drier, dustier, “muskier” indeed – but also lighter). Pear, violet and rose seem way more prominent to me. Still a bit juvenile especially for the fruity notes, but fun, decent and even somehow refined overall.

08th August, 2015

Montana Black Edition by Montana

Well that’s a nice surprise, another quite underrated scent by Montana. Basically this Black Edition is a darker, gloomier, at the same time a bit more sophisticated and drier version of Montana Parfum d’Homme, with both more bitter, almost ash-y leather and a really classy whiff of soap (rose) and something smooth and slightly sweet with a hint of fruit (sandalwood, maybe some resins, and I guess incense – the same kind of accord I think I get in Montana Noir Sacre). So imagine Parfum d’Homme and its fantastic trademark structure of tobacco, cloves, carnation “revisited” with a sort of more contemporary, urban, cold black mixture of leather, ash, glassy cold flowers, a sprinkle of bitter green. Futuristic and decadent at once, both darker on leather and brighter on flowers, and most important, just perfect from any point of view: quality, composition, creativity, elegance. Rich, classy, masculine – in one word, amazingly solid. The original base of Parfum d’Homme is perfectly there, like a Monna Lisa in a frosted glass cube, just set in a totally new ambiance adding the abovementioned feel of futuristic darkness. A true modern “gothic” leather chypre. The name fits the scent perfectly: totally Montana and totally black. For the price, a mandatory must.

08th August, 2015

Hanbury by Maria Candida Gentile

Surely among the nicest fragrances by Maria Candida Gentile, Hanbury opens with a really graceful and romantic bouquet of orange blossoms, mimosa, a drop of citrus, other powdery floral notes (I think I get something similar to muguet and some smooth white flowers) gently surrounded by a dusty, sort of grassy and waxy sweet accord of, I guess, amber, maybe vetiver, beeswax (imagine dry honey) and musk. Overall this is an extremely soft, yet vibrant blend decidedly evoking an “arcadian” imagery to me, more than Mediterranean as you would expect from this South-Italian based brand – it’s warm, pastel, at the same time quite natural and with a palpable sort of crisp, bitter-sweet crunchy feel of grass perfectly giving a hint of realism to flowers and orange-resinous notes. Also both mimosa and beeswax give a really peculiar earthy-honey feel, which also enhances a slightly decadent side. Shortly a really well-balanced and charming fragrance perfectly ranging from bright lights to darker-earthier shades, smelling luscious and innocent at the same time – or, if you prefer, “carnal” and naif, or natural and dreamy at once. And also quite unique. Finally I also share the feel of “abstractness” other reviewers mentioned, a sort of simplicity and cleanliness with just the right touch of “syntheticness” giving Hanbury a contemporary shade, a sort of transparent consistency despite the realistic thickness of some notes. Great quality, great concept and perfect execution. Somehow just a little flat and linear, but tremendously pleasant and refined.

04th August, 2015

Vanille Intense by Nicolaï

I was ready for a (likely boring) blast of pure vanilla, but Nicolai’s Vanille Intense does contain way more than simple vanilla. Actually, if it wasn’t for the name, I would not have called this a “vanilla” scent at all. This seems to me more a sort of really pleasant, albeit sadly slightly cheap sort of neroli-bergamot-musky fragrance with some pepper-cumin, a whiff of herbal aniseed and quite a bold presence of orange-fruity notes, with also a really graceful smell of orange flowers. Not overly sweet overall – actually, barely sweet. There’s some sweetness but it is dry, austere, dusty, elegantly floral. Vanilla is there just to soften and sweeten the base notes, and it even almost disappears after a while. The drydown seems in fact mostly peppery-ambery still with a balsamic whiff of orange and herbs (with a persistent nuance of aniseed for me, which may be an aldehyde though). Kind of similar to the same concept of Fendi Theorema for women, just a bit louder and cheaper here, less heavy on cinnamon and heavier on both pepper, amber and orange-herbal notes.

Quite pleasant overall: a tart, refined, really aromatic fragrance, and for once it’s aromatic in a slightly unusual way – not many fragrances use orange notes this way. Vanille Intense kind of explores orange in some of its nuances – you get the leaves, the blossoms, the fruit. The rest – spices, amber, vanilla, some musk – just acts as a background enhancing the main notes. Sadly the quality doesn’t seem that high as regards of the materials (thus affecting the richness and the vibrancy of the notes), and despite you get a nice evolution and some really nice nuances, overall I find Vanille Intense a bit cheap – in the “flat/synthetic” meaning. You feel it could be way more sparkling and charming than this. I wished they had a bit more budget for it, as Vanille Intense had all the potential to be a really good fragrance. Anyway as-is it is still undoubtedly pleasant, warm, comforting and easy to wear, also with excellent projection and persistence... just a little overpriced for the quality for me.

30th July, 2015

Poivre 23 by Le Labo

One of the nicest Le Labo fragrances I have ever tried. And basically the first pepper fragrance I’ve ever liked. Rich but simple, realistic, straightforward, clean but dark, bold and unique despite featuring some really common notes ( “the devil is in the details”...).Basically, as the name suggests, it is a peppery fragrance, but an extremely clever, balanced and pleasant one. Pepper is quite tricky in fragrances; some tend to be really loud (Villoresi’s Piper Nigrum), some cheap or screechy, some are just boringly, artificially “woody-peppery”, or sometimes they’re just a monotone pepper litany. Well, Poivre 23 isn’t any of that. It brilliantly manages to keep pepper as the central note, yet with some really pleasant and enjoyable nuances that give some colour, some evolution and some vibrancy to the scent – both “bright” and “dark” nuances (or better say, warm-sweet and cold-balsamic). The palette of “colours” of Poivre 23 is quite nondescript actually, it’s just a really vibrant and shimmering fragrance which doesn’t smell like pretty much anything else. I get a lot of “curry” smell, especially initially; some subtle vanillic amber, maybe even something greenish-floral and slightly resinous.

The evolution gets eventually drier, a bit muskier, earthier, still with a perfectly detectable warm-ambery labdanum note, at the same time slightly more balsamic and green (in a dark, “fougère-like” meaning). And with a really pleasant whiff of crisp laundry musk. It feels like a “pepper soliflore” with distant, light echoes of other fragrances – from Etro Ambra to Le Labo Labdanum to many musk-vanilla scents, to (obviously) pepper fragrances like the abovementioned, and inferior, Piper Nigrum, finally almost reaching some really classic green-floral Chanel or Laroche scents – not sure why but I thought of both vintage Laroche’s Fidji and Chanel’s Cristalle at some point. I am not saying I smell them here, rather that their faint green-musky chypresque ghosts lightly “float” around on the background thanks to some really well-put subtle nuances that seem to recall them. Probably one of the most “dynamic” scents I’ve smelled recently, brilliantly keeping it consistent around pepper and cumin. I can’t explain myself better – it’s just a really catchy, fascinating and refined pepper-resinous-green scent, unique and vibrant, extremely enjoyable to wear. And that’s it. Bravi!

28th July, 2015 (last edited: 29th July, 2015)

DKNY Red Delicious Men by Donna Karan

A hypothetical hybrid between Dunhill Desire Red and Dunhill Custom – gone wrong. Red Delicious is a sweet, extremely synthetic “laundry musk” scent infused with discount sandalwood, a bold (and again, utterly plastic) accord of something halfway apple, earthy stuff (coffee?) and booze, finally unexplicably stuffed with a ton of nondescript metallic screechiness which does have a fascinating shimmering nature – smelling halfway rotten cough syrup and floor cleaner. Not tragic overall, and most important not really far from many niche scents playing this same “sweet booziness” card. But the quality is really, really low - too cheap to be taken seriously.

26th July, 2015
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Honour Man by Amouage

Honour Man is for me among the “least Amouage” offerings by Amouage – both in a (slightly) positive and (mostly) negative meaning. The good news is that it smells different from most of their other masculine scents, so at least it’s something new: the bad news is that this “new” smells like a cheap parody of any Comme des Garçons-like balsamic peppery incense stuffed with musk, nutmeg, geranium and discount vetiver. That’s pretty much it in fact, a really artificial and kind of harsh musky incense with a mildly vibrant geranium-green-balsamic vein, which would be even quite nice (leafy, bitter, realistic) if it wasn’t blended with a cheap peppery-musky-incense and ambroxan galore, supported by a really generic, Jil Sander-esque woody base. You can easily guess how this smells on skin: “grey”, kind of cold, annoyingly synthetic, with a lot of plastic-rubbery nuances I wouldn’t really want from this price range. Vibrant and creative as an office cubicle on Sunday. Shortly probably it gives you the same result you’d get by layering Jil Sander Men (from 2000) with any geranium-musky supermarket scent. Now you know why I don’t like most of niche offerings? Because contrary to mainstream/designer brands managing (more or less successfully) to produce anything from socks to fragrances via dog leashes, so having at least the “we’re really busy” excuse, niche houses have one job – making perfumes. They’ve all the time and the resources to do it. And half of the time they make clumsy stuff mainstream brands could make blind folded between a new pair of shoes and a stoneware set. And at a fraction of the price, obviously. Honour Man may be decent, but... what’s the point?

25th July, 2015

Mark Birley For Men Charles Street by Mark Birley

A really successful blind buy for me for once. You can safely trust the positive reviews, it is a really nice scent indeed. Solid, masculine, really elegant. Although I don’t get some of the notes listed, what I do get is surely coffee (pungent, dry, austere and earthy coffee beans – don’t think of any diabete-inducing Mugler’s type of coffee), a really well-crafted angelica note smelling leafy and bittersweet (better say bitter-“aqueous” actually), a pungent fruity accord which is actually more boozy than fruity (think of the smell of wine corks) and a really nice, robust leather accord. Now, the comparison to Tuscan Leather is surely correct, although Mark Birley smells decidedly more “virile” and dry for me. But surely that’s the ballpark. Smooth, slightly sweet leather. The thing is Birley costs a fraction of that, and is also quite more interesting, creative and complex, so it’s really easy to see the winner here.

Other comparisons came to my head, basically many recent fruity-leather scents – from Cuir X by La Parfumerie Moderne, to a sort of drier, darker, “gentleman” version of Parfum d’Empire’s Cuir Ottoman and so on. I really, really appreciate the mood of Charles Street, as it brilliantly manages to smell at once contemporary (even “trendy” for its “polished leather & fruity notes” structure) and austere, sophisticatedly echoing vintage dark leather fougères. This is what makes it better than most of the modern leathers mentioned, this really elegant sort of “mature” vibe perfectly fitting the concept (a tribute to Birley’s club?). I think Bourdon did a really good job in blending classic and modern leather inspirations. As regard of the general mood and style, also Bentley for Men Intense came to my mind at some point – the notes are quite different (not completely though, the ambery booziness is quite here too), but I think they share some similar mood, really nailing it in terms of self-confident class and quality. Projection and longevity aren’t really top notch, but apart from this... really good!

21st July, 2015

Pure Lavande by Azzaro

Not bad per se, but this has nothing to do with lavender. This is a really mellow, smooth, even sort of pleasant blend of anisic-aldehydic musk and vanilla; soapy, sweet, ambery, and with that peculiar sort of "dusty gassiness" provided by aldehydes or something like that. I think I also smell some really light and subtle hint of something rubbery, like a really synthetic imitation leather note. Shortly a "grey" synthetic scent which as other reviewers said, probably would work better as a room spray than on skin. Nothing green, or aromatic, or floral as one may expect. But I get Azzaro's clumsy attempt to connect this to "pure lavender", as it has indeed some "laundry" feel thanks to musk (which also lavender may have, as a minor side nuance). I wouldn't consider this a bad scent though, as it is decent and crisp overall and almost smells like something Comme des Garçons or Andrea Maack could have come up with; it's just completely wrong for that name.

20th July, 2015

L'Essence de Cerruti by Cerruti

Essence de Cerruti opens as a heavily synthetic sort of balsamic musk blend, kind of creamy and minty, with something smelling like fresh violet and sweet woods (imitation sandalwood, imitation cedar). I surely get amber, and also a fruity-citrus note, but I completely miss the leather initially. Just a quite nondescript, juvenile sweet-creamy-woody blend with a toothpaste-like mint and peppery vibe and some generic crisp wood on the base. And a terrible feel of clumsiness and rush, as if Antoine Lie got the brief for this the night before the final delivery – although honestly that’s the feeling most of his compositions give to me. A complete lack of interest, direction, inspiration. A shrug in a bottle, which doesn’t even smell that good – quite cheap indeed on the contrary, but not enough to pass it as some “futuristic synthetic avantgarde”. Just cheap and generic. As a side consolation, on the drydown there’s some faint rubber resembling to leather – the cheapest contemporary leather you may think of, in line with the rest of the fragrance. I quite like, or at least respect Cerruti usually, but allow me to “meh...”.

19th July, 2015

Weekend for Men by Burberry

Crisp green-fruity-citrus scent with no praise or blame – well, more blame than praise, quite on the synthetic/acrid side (a floor detergent, basically – imagine you’re using it to clean the tropical juice you’ve just spilled on the floor, here’s Weekend). Quite cheap overall, especially for the first minutes which are fairly loud and pungent; once it settles a bit on skin and finds its proper tuning, it’s a mildly enjoyable and exceedingly generic green-citrus-musky scent with those annoying metallic-pungent nonsense nuances many brands try to pass as “tropical fruity notes” – although luckily it’s more green-woody and citrus than tropical. Not that acrid anymore if compared to the opening, more metallic and “gassy” after a couple of hours, but still miles away from being something pleasant to wear. Anyway, linearly green and fruity on the lime-tropical side, and that’s all. Personally I’d rate this mediocre, to be generous; but if you’re looking for a summer fragrance and your pretenses are really (really, really) low, then here you go.

18th July, 2015

Dunhill Edition by Dunhill

Another fragrance I misjudged at first – it may seem a bit conventional, it isn’t really. Edition (vintage version) is a really pleasant, extremely refined and quite modern gentleman’s scent decidedly belonging to the classiest “barbershop” family, but at the same time connecting to several different inspirations. There’s some clove tobacco and rubbery/leather-ish notes that remind me of some old dark Italian leather fougères like Ferré for Man or Krizia Moods (but with a far echo of vintage Bel Ami too), there’s quite some bold spicy nutmeg which seems anticipating stuff like Cacharel pour Homme and Cacharel Nemo, and there’s finally a really classic and smooth citrus-lavender-mossy/woody structure that brings Edition back to a timeless “barbershop” realm. Spicier and fresher at first, darker and woodier (mostly vetiver and nutmeg) on the drydown, with a silky “fil rouge” of gentle leather and flowers (I definitely get carnation and rose) providing a really palpable feel of mannered luxury and sophistication. So don’t expect any “powerhouse” for sure – this is, or was, probably one of the most elegant British fragrances around. And quite complex too, but the final result on skin is extremely wearable, easy-going, versatile and most of all, exceedingly pleasant. Smoky and spicy, slightly dark, perfectly suitable for both formal occasions and daytime informal settings, the kind of “old school distinguished stuff” getting repeatedly ripped off today by brands like Puredistance, Roja Dove and Clive Christian. Really good.

16th July, 2015

The Dreamer by Versace

First, the good news: if you want my opinion, I see almost no difference between the “vintage” and the more recent version of Dreamer. I said “almost” so I’m not saying they’re identical – the vintage smells a bit more natural, slightly darker and smoother, without the synthetic harshness of the recent (current?) version you can smell loud and clear at its very opening; but since in a matter of minutes it goes away and the scents perfectly “tunes in”, I think the two versions are 99% equivalent overall – just use a little patience with the more recent one. The drydown is pretty much identical, I surely don’t get any “ruined” juice as I read online about the current version. This said, the scent itself is just an excellent piece of modern perfumery. Almost nondescript for me, and it took me a while to “understand” it: it smells just really beautiful, uplifting and terribly pleasant. I don’t get how did they make it precisely, but all works perfectly. I smell tobacco (cigarette type), lavender, spices (Jaipur Homme’s kind of Oriental, talc-infused sweet spices), a clever touch of something balsamic-green, but most of all I smell overall a fantastic feel of cleanliness, peace, fulfillment with a really peculiar “ambiance” halfway naturally and earthy, and so clean and slightly musky it almost smells futuristic.

I usually can’t stand reviews romanticizing scents and I try to avoid mentioning feelings and suggesting “images”, but this time I can’t help it, as Dreamer has a really strong evocative quality for me – evoking this sense of neat, clean, “natural versus artificial” brightness with a fantastic shade of “barbershop” notes and a touch of Oriental mystery. The way they’re blended makes the difference here, Dreamer is incredibly harmonic and compact, there’s just a perfectly consistent unique smell that smells of, well, “Versace Dreamer” and that’s it. This fragrance has them almost all – it’s elegant, versatile, but at the same time informal and fun, and has a really nice set of shades and a subtle “enigmatic” vein, I guess due to its Oriental notes. An easy-going but fascinating “chiaroscuro”. Plus I think it brilliantly takes inspiration from several families of perfumes – from classic tobacco-floral fragrances like Zino Davidoff, to dandy Oriental gems like Jaipur Homme, both under a decidedly “younger”, more modern light. An outstanding work of synthesis of many diverse inspirations, brilliantly projected into the future. Excellent creativity, excellent skills to give it shape. But above all, it smells just fantastic – the vintage version does it since the very first spray, with the recent one you’ve to wait some 15-20 minutes, but then it works as good as the previous one. Easily the nicest Versace ever for men, together with L’homme from 1984 (which is as good as conventional and a bit outdated for me though, while Dreamer is way more timeless – or more precisely, completely “out of time”).

14th July, 2015 (last edited: 15th July, 2015)

Pure Cédrat by Azzaro

One of the nicest and more peculiar recent scents by Azzaro, which since a couple of decades seems aiming at producing duller and duller cheap scents one after another. Pure Cedrat is surprisingly decent, and surprisingly “outdated” in a really pleasant way. Basically it is a really mannered and elegant citrus-neroli fragrance with lavender and a herbal-mossy-musky undertone, and the citrus here is not a blast of synthetic “sport” stuff but a refined, really natural “citron” note – the name “Pure Cedrat” refers to that in fact (contrary to what many would expect I guess, as this has nothing to do with cedarwood). The result is a distinguished juice evoking classic products from Eau de Rochas to many “Monsieur de”, to vintage Eau Sauvage, to a good old fresh glass of fizzy citron juice.

Azzaro smells thinner, a bit cheaper and more modern than many of those classic scents, but it has that same irresistible subtle touch of French “dirtiness” that many masculine fragrances had in the past (not Derby or Jicky kind of raw dirty, rather a more discreet touch of something mossy-musky which speaks “vintage” to me – that sort of “moldy” aftertaste). Imagine that, blended with the graceful, bracing, slightly fruity notes of citrus, citron and neroli. And the fact it smells less complex and less austere than many classic fresh fragrances for men would be a plus for many people, since I guess this it makes Pure Cedrat a bit more unisex and more appealing for younger targets which I guess don’t usually crave for that “grandpa” feel. Pure Cedrat basically blends a modern/mainstream vibe with classicism, and I like that since it does it in a really balanced and honest way. It’s nothing complex and nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a healthy breath of elegance from a (nowadays) exceedingly dull brand. Sadly the other two fellows of this “collection” - Pure Lavender and Pure Vetiver - aren’t this good, but this one is worthy a sniff.

14th July, 2015

Sander for Men by Jil Sander

By far the dullest Jil Sander masculine scent ever for me. It smells literally like a couple of really basic and bland aromachemicals thrown and stirred in a bottle, the same kind of stuff you can find in any masculine sport-woody deodorant. Beyond generic, a true nowhere in a bottle. No direction, no inspiration, “nondescript” to say the least as other reviewers already stated. I am sorry to say that since I’ve always found Jil Sander scents much underrated, and I am usually quite a big fan of the brand, but there’s surely way better among their offerings – actually almost anything’s better than this in my opinion. As regards of the smell, notes speak for themselves and there’s not much to add for me, just imagine them in the most boring and unsubstantial rendition possible: a cheap woody-peppery-herbal scent with a bold, pungent synthetic feel and a sort of far background similarity with herbal-aquatic scents like Rochas Aquaman or Lanvin Oxygene – a distant echo tortured and buried under a drugstore mess of cheap woody aromachemicals. Meh...

10th July, 2015

L'Ombre dans L'Eau Eau de Toilette by Diptyque

Messy, acrid cheap synthetic cassis, synthetic rose and synthetic blackcurrant all the way. It may have been better some years ago, now it’s this – and nothing else. It smells halfway a drugstore green-rose cologne from the 1980’s and a contemporary fruity-musky scent right out of a suburban Chinese emporium. As hours pass it becomes more tolerable as it focuses on rose and faint leafy echo, but it’s still nothing more than a cheap insult to “selective” perfumery for me.

10th July, 2015

Horizon by Guy Laroche

Horizon by Laroche is a really fascinating scent, I wouldn’t define it a “good” scent but it’s surely much intriguing, quite ahead of its time for me and making a creative use of both green fougère structure and fruity-floral-aquatic accords. That’s what I get here in fact – basically a sort of “aquatic-fruity-floral fougère”, a slap of green-fruity watery freshness (imagine a Mediterranean breeze of pine and warm sea) on a more conventional green-mossy fougère, both blended with a graceful accord of flowers (dark carnation, bright pastel cyclamen) and a recognizable note of orange. Sort of Givenchy Insensé meets Cool Water and both meet Pino Silvestre. Still a bit cheap, but in a fun way - and pleasant above all, that’s what counts. The name “Horizon” quite fits the scent, as it really radiates a peaceful feel of contemplation and calm with a joyful, vibrant natural vibe – and a brilliant vein of “classic” barbershop notes giving just right amount of “civilized elegance”. Really enjoyable and decent, just a bit screechy at the very opening and not the classiest scent around (it’s quite loud especially on the green-fruity side), but an uplifting fun little gem.

10th July, 2015

Kenzo Power by Kenzo

Another example of a “potential niche sensation” in a “neglected mainstream bottle”. Give this an obscure hipster name, make 50 bottles per batch when you feel to and get rich (if not in money, in praise and hype). Jokes aside, Kenzo Power is an extremely interesting fragrance, surely one of the most creative ones by this brand, and most important, tremendously easy and enjoyable to wear regardless of any added value. Power is a really bright, white, talc-like powdery scent with a fantastic bergamot opening, a sort of gassy-spicy vibe and a really recognizable tolu balsam note, which brings it really close to that other tolu bomb – Escada Magnetism for Men. Both share that same exact sort of “creamy-powdery-medicinal Cola feel”, and while in Escada it was bolder and more predictably integrated in a YSL M7 kind of structure, Kenzo Power brilliantly and perfectly fits it in a completely different, almost opposite ambiance – a delicate, weightless, futuristic sort of abstract floral whiteness, which gets some “substance” and a sweet darker shade precisely thanks to this odd balmy feel coming and going, cleverly balanced by a subtle but persistent feel of aromatic zesty freshness (bergamot). The only far comparison that came to my mind at some point was some sort of translucent lab hologram of a grandnephew of Jaipur Homme and Escada Magnetism for Men – fresher than both. Quality-wise the blend smells synthetic in a really pleasant, creative way, somehow soothing and somehow aloof, the kind of synthetic which you quite never smelled before (who said syntethics don’t require as much talent and creativity than naturals?). The result is a really clean and bright scent with a ton of personality, some really charming and enigmatic shades, decidedly androgynous, creepy and comforting at the same time. Fantastic for summer days. Really well done.

06th July, 2015

Ferré for Men by Gianfranco Ferré

Ferré for Men (nothing to do with Ferré for Man from 1986) is for me one of the most representative epitomes of “half-baked” fragrances. It’s perfectly split in half, on a time axis: one is really – really! - good, the other is not tragic, but a bit disappointing. The opening is perfect for me, a surprisingly rich buttery iris with a remarkably elegant “lipstick” effect on a musky-mossy base and refreshed with some zesty notes of bergamot, and probably that “pineapple” too, since there’s indeed some really subtle fruity feel that gives some sweet brightness to iris. Less quality than Dior Homme, a bit darker and woodier and with a sort of poliurethane-leather feel, but surely Dior Homme may be a broad comparison. Either that, or even more L’Homme de Coeur by Divine. This is the best part of the evolution, a really elegant opening phase perfectly balanced between “masculine” musky-woody-leathery notes, a hint of mainstream spiciness (tonka above all), a feminine touch of lipstick iris, and a whiff of aromatic freshness.

Sadly though, the progression isn’t really consistent: the iris note tones down quicker than I expected and so does its really nice sort of citrus-fruity support, and Ferré for Men slowly turns into a generic woody-musky scent with a generic spicy accord (tonka again, now more prominent) and a generic touch of synthetic leather, just tinged with a really mild and light touch of iris (mostly soapy musk than the initial “lipstick” iris). Like a good supporting band without its leader. Still better than most of mainstream average of this same “contemporary Oriental” family, nothing bad and totally nice to wear, but surely way less refined and intriguing than the first phase. I still consider this a good scent overall, and I’d even suggest you to grab a bottle if you stumble upon nice deals; just a bit disappointing after a while – so either settle for this, or keep reapplying it.

05th July, 2015

Herrera for Men by Carolina Herrera

I recently acquired a current, allegedly reformulated bottle of this (all brown dotted packaging with silver borders) and without having tried the previous one, all I can say is that this more recent version smells really good for me. Nothing harsher or more “synthetic” than one may reasonably expect - and accept - within this price range; Herrera for Men is actually kind of classy, suprisingly compelling and really enjoyable, and also fairly creative for its era: basically a sort of really smooth, niche-like curry-scented tobacco scent with a hint of honey, some clean musk-lavender tone and the shade of a classic fougère structure. Lots of interesting nuances here, from something tea-like to a really balanced use of cloves (a note that 99% of the times I hate bad). What amazed me at the first sniff is how surprisingly close to tobacco this is – way more than other more praised scents that were kind of a disappointment to me to this extent (e.g. Aramis Havana, which is great but doesn’t remind me of tobacco that much; or inferior juvenile stuff like Michael Kors for Men – not to mention most of contemporary tobacco scents smelling like cheap candies).

Speaking as a long-time cigarettes smoker, I think Herrera for Men quite captures the aroma of a packet of cigarettes – not the raw, dry-earthy one of cigars, not the sophisticated, “humid-sweet” aromatic smell of pipe tobacco, but the mildly sweet, slightly synthetic, maybe pedestrian smell of common cigarettes. There’s lots of this tobacco here, tasty and realistic, together with cumin, a drop of citrus at the opening and something sweet-warm and slightly fruity, like honeyed amber and a bit similar to tea too (think of a grown-up macho version of Gucci pour Homme II), with a really clever accord of more “traditional” masculine notes (musky lavender, woods, geranium) that gives the scent a pleasant touch of “barbershop”. There’s also some really nice sandalwood here, joining the sweet-earthy side of the fragrance. A lot of names come to mind considering the different sides of this Herrera individually, but none would be really a comparison for the fragrance as a whole, as in fact Herrera for Men smells honestly quite new and unique to me. It’s surely a bit close to other early 1990s fragrances (the first Zegna comes to mind in particular) but there’s quite more going on here. The quality isn’t top-notch but it works really good, way better than I expected given that all other Herrera scents I’ve tried were utter crap for me. A bang for the buck if you ask me; it smells good, bold but classy, masculine as a Raymond Chandler villain, totally decent for the price.

04th July, 2015

1000 Miglia Extreme by Chopard

*This review applies to the normal, non-extreme version of this (which isn't listed on Basenotes yet, I will move this accordingly once they add it)*

The composition seemed interesting to me at first, especially that promising “asphalt-suede” combo, so I approached this with slightly more enthusiasm than usual, although I am not really a fan of Chopard fragrances, and well, I was wrong – in being slightly more enthusiastic than usual, I mean. Utter cheapness and boredom in a bottle. The opening comprises mostly a contemporary aromatic fougère bone structure of wood, lavender, citrus scented with tobacco, some subtle smell of coffee, a dusty-sweet feel (amber and violet) and a little sad suede aromachemical lying in the shame corner. 1000 miglia reminds me of a cheaper, subtler, more boring version of woody-coffee scents like Rochas Man crossed with Lanvin’s Arpège pour Homme and similar “violet woodyambers”; just more generic, with more lavender, more (depressingly synthetic) wood, a bit more zest, a hint of green. Basically a dull, slightly confused and more generic version of both (or similar ones) with a persistent sort of soapy-musky-woody feel drowned in plastic. Tragically uninspired, too cheap to be at least “mediocrely refined”, one of those scents you have to sniff constantly to remind how they smell, and probably regret having bought them. Plenty of better options for this non-genre.

04th July, 2015

L'Eau des Hespérides by Diptyque

Eau des Hesperides by Diptyque starts off with a sharp, almost acrid minty-citrus-grass accord, which smells as much green as really pungent and balsamic. Invigorating and bracing on one side, quite artificial on the other, ending up in smelling a bit like a nasal decongestant – balsamic for sure, but also decidedly “medicinal” in a literal, non-fascinating meaning. The musky base, subtle but substantial, doesn’t help in minimizing this plastic feel. Still if it’s smashing green freshness what you are looking for, regardless of quality and charm, then this will probably suit your needs. Personally I find this a bit too loud and artificial, with way too much acrid-synthetic stuff going on - speaking of contemporary green citrus scents I tend to prefer more discreet, natural refined stuff like some Hermès “concentrés”, but to each his own. Like many other Diptyque fragrances, a nothing bad-nothing good quintessence of negligibility.

03rd July, 2015

Infusion d'Iris by Prada

A classy gem I neglected for too long, I used to own Infusion d’Homme some years ago and got rid of it since it smelled too light and a bit dull for me - and I thought this was just its feminine counterpart (therefore even lighter and – not to sound sexist – probably duller). I was so wrong! This is so better than that – and ironically, way more suitable for men. Easily however this is one of the nicest iris-based scents on the market for me, especially of the fresher/gentler sub-family. And even more easily, the best offering by Prada so far, but it didn’t take much for that. Infusion d’iris is a tremendously radiant, bright and bracing blend centered on a minimalistic structure of iris petals (no buttery/waxy/lipstick orris root), bergamot, something slightly and elegantly candied-fruity, soft incense and a silky, really discreet base accord of musk and bright vetiver. The notes seem common, their smell isn’t at all: the quality is clearly high and unique, particularly more than usual, and you can definitely feel it. All smells clean and light, but decidedly more intense and substantial than one may expect.

The evolution is also really catchy and irresistibly pleasant, moving from a zesty pastel opening of fresh bergamot and bright iris petals through a soapy, stronger central phase centered on iris (blossoming in its earthier-leafier side) and musk, ending on a beautiful vetiver drydown still infused with a powdery touch of iris. Like a really consistent three-movement piece of intimate piano music, with iris being the recurrent theme. And aside from its brilliant evolution, it just smells great - period. And persistent, too: very few perfumes manage to smell this crisp, weightless and luminous keeping some intensity and persistence, and also ending up in being exceedingly perfect for men and women. Probably only the best Ellena’s for Hermès managed to do that – and Infusion d’Iris could easily stand among them in fact. Together with Rush for Men, probably one of the best works by Roche-Andrier, showing that exact same feel of discreet, bright, extremely clean sense of quality, refinement and sophistication (now let’s all wait until Prada discontinues it to realize that!).

02nd July, 2015