Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Colin Maillard

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Total Reviews: 1254

Geranium Odorata by Diptyque

Nothing more than a barely decent and kind of loud (not to say screechy) synthetic geranium scent with a rose nuance and a dull cedar-ambery base, also tinged with a whiff of something reminding me of ambergris – something salty, musky and slightly animalic. Maybe some incense too. No relevant evolution and quite a long, annoyingly artificial persistence. I wouldn’t define it “tragic” but it is really a bit too much close to an overpriced floor cleaner or a really, really cheap mainstream fragrance to make some sense as a niche perfume – especially for the price.

5/10
02nd July, 2015

Escapade a Byzance by Olibere Parfums

Escapade à Byzance by French newcomer Olibère is for me sadly nothing more than a worthless addiction to the endless galore of Duchaufour’s creations, and particularly one of the most negligible. I guess the budget was tight here, both for the materials and for the nose, so the result is both cheap and uninspired. To cut it short this smells to me as an extremely synthetic blend of ambery-woody incense with... well, not much more. Something sweetish, spicy-dusty, vaguely similar to cinnamon but so generic and artificial that it does not trigger any specific association to notes for me. The few notes I can “recognize” with some stretch are the abovementioned amber (nothing warm, rather the ubiquitous greyish ambroxan), woods (the usual synthetic cedar stuff) and a really cheap incense note. That’s it. It doesn’t stink, but... 2015, niche? This smells like something Jil Sander could have come up with in 2001 at a third of the price. Meh...

4,5-5/10
01st July, 2015

Kenzo pour Homme Boisée / Woody by Kenzo

This “woody” flanker of Kenzo Homme is one of those fragrances you can’t really go wrong with. It has for me a remarkable balance of generic safeness and decent quality, and above all, it is really pleasant to wear. You won’t keep sniffing your wrists and you won’t hear underwear garments fall at your side, but you’ll smell nice, fresh and effortlessly, discreetly classy. Plus this fragrance is also extremely simple and clean, which is another “added value” in terms of versatility and wearabilty. Basically on my skin it smells literally of three or four bold and clear notes: some citrus, an initial ton of sharp minty-aromatic leafy green (the fairly realistic basil-mint accord) which will then slowly fade away, a really tiny hint of some soapy musk and a really enjoyable vetiver base which will emerge more clearly on the drydown – which is basically nearly only vetiver and some musk again. The vetiver here is grassy, fresh and woody, nothing forcedly “dark” or inky/smoky. I’d dare to compare it with the marvelous grassy vetiver note in Guerlain Homme Intense, just with a lower quality (surprisingly not that lower though, it smells actually really compelling). That’s it: nothing groundbreaking or memorable, rather the epitome of clean versatile safeness – something solid (and it really is for me, quality-wise) you can generously overspray on the rush in every situation with every weather, when you’re not in the mood of wearing something more fulfilling or complex.

7/10
01st July, 2015
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Zegna by Ermenegildo Zegna

Like many other masculine classic fragrances from those years, the first scent by Zegna tries to blend some classic “powerhouse” notes from the 1980’s (leather, cloves, oak moss, carnation) with a “younger”, more refined powdery Oriental vein of amber, spices and something floral-musky. A “gentler” powerhouse, maybe broadly comparable to Guerlain Heritage, just way less sophisticated than that, more herbaceous, sharp, still more leathery and “virile”. Say, more than a similarity, I think they could share some similar inspiration – to “brighten up” the rather gloomy realm of masculine fougères of the preceding decade with something spicier and more powdery. And that’s it, you can easily imagine how it smells and sadly for me, with all respects, it falls within the “boring” side – I mean that it is a perfectly decent and elegantly masculine fragrance with no particular quality or creativity or “added values” to make it a “gem to re-discover” (unless you’re really obsessed with Italian fougères).

6,5/10
29th June, 2015

Armani Eau de Nuit by Giorgio Armani

Halfway Paul Smith Man and Dior Homme, a sort of spicy-dusty “grey” iris-tonka fragrance loaded with synthetic amber nuances, a ton of cheap soapy musk (you’ll get it all on the drydown) and a hint of smoke. Clearly similar to Dior Homme – the kind of “similar” connecting a counterfeit PU leather replica of a Hermès Birkin bag to the original one. A strong will to be content with very little, a bit of imagination and really low pretenses can make the purchase worthy. The same here; Eau de Nuit smells heavily and almost annoyingly cheap and not exactly “inspired” from the point of view of the creativity... but well, it works somehow, especially since the prices seem quite low. It’s warm, slightly sweet, dark but gentle, a resemblance with the drydown of Body Kouros pops out on the drydown. *Indifferent shrug*.

5,5-6/10
27th June, 2015

Original Santal by Creed

Trying not to be judgemental here, but Original Santal by Creed is really a depressing fragrance given the price and the pretenses it has. I can accept the fact there is no (I mean: no!) sandalwood here, and obviously no “original” sandalwood therefore, but even putting that aside, it smells really, clearly and desperately mediocre. Don’t expect any luxury out of this, it is basically a really generic herbal juniper-lavender blend with a lot of spices on the smooth-sweet side, mostly cinnamon and tonka, and that’s it. Pleasantly outdated if you want, but that’s a really miserable cold comfort to pay that money to feel like a wealthy distinguished connoisseur while actually smelling like a lower-class accountant from the early 1990s. Not saying Original Santal stinks; it is decent, in the least enthusiastic meaning ever, something which I would consider acceptable for a 15/20 EUR fragrance. “Drugstore/chainstore-decent” as any Montblanc and similar fragrances would be. Sadly I am given to understand Creed fans are most of the time so devotedly stubborn that my review will just appear as some snobbish grumpy opposer bashing the brand for the sake of it... well I am not. I admit this would be fine with a way lower price, so I do see some margin of acceptability with this fragrance, but as-is (over 2 EUR/ml?) it’s objectively preposterous - this being in the same broad price range of, say, Hermès Cuir d’Ange? Insulting.

4,5-5/10
27th June, 2015

Balmain Homme by Pierre Balmain

The very first two thoughts I had when I tried this: it’s pretty much exactly how you can imagine it by reading the notes, and it definitely “smells Interparfums”. They must really use the same materials over and over, because I get here the exact same notes I get in many other scents made by this company – e.g. some St. Dupont’s, or Paul Smith’s. But well, it isn’t really an issue for me as long as they smell fine, and most of them did or do for me. There’s something “dusty”, smooth, smoky- powdery in most of their textures, which I quite like. Balmain Homme also strongly reminds me of a mainstream fragrance I can’t identify at the moment; I sprayed 1 Million on my other arm just to see if it may have been that since it has been named somewhere as a close comparison to Balmain Homme, but it’s not that – it does not really have much to do with Balmain’s in fact. Nearly nothing (phew!). I am quite sure it may be Versace Eros on the contrary, as I get here the same sort of “soapy spicy sweetness” due to tonka, cedar and musk. But that’s the only similarity, as Balmain Homme smells different for the rest. Another reference that I thought of is – fun enough – discontinued Balman by Balmain; it was sweeter, more “creatively” synthetic and less smoky, but I see a clear connection. Anyway as I said the notes are quite faithful: the opening is really nice, fresh and almost tea-like, I get mostly violet (synthetic sharp-soapy violet), tonka, cedar, musk, some other smooth spices (nutmeg for sure), something almost fruity, and just some really mannered, almost unperceivable and smooth polished leather as in most of recent “trendy leathers”.

A fresh-sweet-smoky Oriental fragrance for “urban” young fellas; it smells clean, quite synthetic (not an issue for me), decidedly mainstream, but undoubtedly decent and elegantly versatile. It’s actually quite nice to be honest, it has an enjoyable feel of bright spicy cleanliness which I quite like, blending quite nicely fresh notes and smokier ones; and if you make the effort of putting aside prejudices against “generic mainstreams”, you’ll also think of some niche scents if that’s a plus for you (a couple of Parfums de Marly came to my mind, and several “weightless” violet-leather scents). Nothing extremely sophisticated or particularly “masculine” in a more mature meaning, and surely nothing particularly interesting for perfume collectors and enthusiasts (unlike the other couple of Balmain fragrances for men), except if you’re looking for some “easy” alternatives in your more fulfilling connoisseur’s rotation; rather something generically “cool”, pleasant, safe, pedantically conforming to mainstream current trends, and really easy to wear. No contraindications, no unpleasant side-effects. Which is what designer fragrances are mostly designed for, so there’s little to blame here. It’s quite powerful too, the projection is remarkable and so is the persistence. So shortly nothing memorable but a decent, unpretentious, slightly overpriced candidate for a “signature scent” for 20-25 something guys (or handsome, Dorian Gray-esque young-looking 30-something’s as myself).

6,5-7/10
26th June, 2015

Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

Bentley for Men intense is ridicolously good. Breathtakingly good, the kind of good which makes you feel there’s still hope for perfumery – both niche and designer, as Intense easily stands above most of both – and it is somehow rooted into both. As other reviewers noted in fact, it brilliantly takes its inspiration from Idole de Lubin for all the exotic boozy-woody stuff, a couple of Tauer perfumes (I strongly agree with L’air du Désert Marocain reference in particular, I clearly smell almost the exact same base of tasty spicy ambroxan for a while), and Amouage’s Jubilation XXV. I would also add Gucci pour Homme I, not because of the notes (even if I get some subtle similarities) but because of a sort of common ground of dark, breezy and understated woody-incense elegance which so far, basically only Gucci pour Homme I itself was able to express at its best – and now, Bentley does it too. Intense is decidedly darker, though: it’s boozy, peppery and leathery with a genius aromatic breeze of greenish, fougère-like notes of bay leaves and a hint of cocoa-like patchouli (think Lutens’ Borneo 1834), but as for many fragrances by Nathalie Lorson, showing an irresistible sort of dusty, weightless resinous-talc texture making it smell discreet, warm, slightly sweet and extremely sophisticated. Also slightly fruity too.

And for once, the “concept” and the skills of the nose are supported by a decent budget, as this smells clearly a great quality fragrance also from the point of view of the materials. It is rich (despite being unobtrusively “thin”), deep, vibrant, it has a brilliant evolution from the sharp boozy-leathery-patchouli opening (the leather in particular is really good here for me – Amouage-like, again) to a fantastic amber-incense drydown with sweet echoes of benzoin, leather and talc. It is really mannered and refined, at the same time totally safe and versatile, almost close to skin as a proper classy scent should wear, but long lasting. My expectations were quite high given the praise by a couple of “key” reviewers for me, but it easily surpassed them, and I think Bentley and Firmenich couldn’t really do better than this. Well to cut it short I can’t say better what other reviewers already said – this is easily one of the very best fragrances of the last decade, period. Apparently the prices dropped as I paid 40 eur/100 ml on a French website, and that’s a steal for such a great fragrance.

8,5-9/10
25th June, 2015

Blu Notte pour Homme by Bulgari

Blu Notte by Bulgari is a barely-to-fairly pleasant and quite distinctive fragrance playing some interesting, albeit not entirely compelling gourmand-barbershop chords in a less common way than usual (didn’t say “better”). It may be considered a “chocolate-lavender” fragrance, as those are for me the main notes composing the recognizable bone-structure of the scent, so we’re in Rochas Man and similar masculine gourmands kind of league; not saying Blu Notte is similar to Rochas though, as besides the absence of coffee, it is massively more synthetic, more spicy-woody (cedar and cardamom are surely there) and with a more decided office-safe “laundry” feel of lavender and musk. Also less sweet and gourmand than Rochas or similar fragrances, and showing some fresher-greener head notes to balance the sweet spicy-woodiness. But as I said, the “concept” seems similar – pairing “office-barbershop” notes (lavender, woods, citrus) with some younger, “urban” Oriental-gourmand stuff (from cardamom to chocolate here).

A bright, warm, polished type of spicy choco-lavender fragrance... With an elephantine flaw, though: an unbearably bold feel of aseptic, synthetic soapy-powdery “cleanliness” which reminds me of some of the cheapest Versace on the market, and other 1990s/early-2000s fragrances heavy on “laundry-powdery” aromachemicals – musk, lavender, sweet soapy stuff. This has the same feel, a nondescript smell of, well, pure “synthetic soapiness” which I can’t really cope with. It’s everywhere, wrapping the notes like that white ice cream of that great horror B-movie from the 1980’s – “The Stuff”. Which is sad because aside from this, some notes smell nice. So shortly I quite enjoy the concept personally, as I have a penchant for adult masculine gourmands; but sadly the execution for me is just barely decent and a bit too cheap to be compelling enough (and worthy the discontinued prices).

5,5-6/10
24th June, 2015

Un Homme by Charles Jourdan

Un Homme by Charles Jourdan is an extremely solid, charming and well-made aromatic fougère for men clearly in the same league of Azzaro pour Homme, playing pretty much the exact same main key notes – anisic-powdery notes of lavender and sage on green, flowery-mossy woods. But there’s a twist unique enough to make it worthy having; it smells basically like a sort of wilder, darker, grassier version of Azzaro. “Wilder” not because it is more aggressive or louder, actually in fact it smells really mannered and classy; but because it has some really vibrant, natural quality which makes it really close to the actual smell of wet grass and freshly-cut green branches, also with a nondescript sort of “cloudy” feel, evoking a tense gust of air before a storm. Also spicier and dirtier, with bold notes of cloves and patchouli that provide weight to a feel of subtle dark leather that will gain more and more strength as time passes. So imagine Azzaro pour Homme in its utmost vintage splendour, just wrapped in leather and wet grass. Azzaro pour Homme “The Kinky Gardener Edition”. I also agree to references other reviewers made – Captain Molyneux, Oscar de la Renta pour Lui, Krizia Uomo... dark-green aromatic fougères, that’s the family and Jourdan surely sits on the top of it. Brilliant!

8,5/10
22nd June, 2015

Very Irrésistible for Men Fresh Attitude by Givenchy

More than irresistible, this is just very, very, very plastic and synthetic in the wrong meaning – smelling like something which just popped out of a futuristic complicated industrial machinery. I get some nuances that with quite some stretch and fantasy, may be connected with the notes listed (citrus, coffee, cedar), but above all I get a really loud concoction of pure plastic, with laundry-fruity-citrus nuances. Mostly due to musk and citrus, I guess, and something vaguely floral. The only notes which smell acceptably “realistic” especially after a while, are cedar and lavender. With the right name and the right marketing concept, this would be easily a best-seller among the “post-modern futuristic side” of niche perfumery. As is, it’s just more a depressing, Calvin Klein-esque mainstream fizzy burp with no interest, no depth, no taste (both meaning “no class” and literally, “no specific taste”). Surely it is a “fresh” watery version of Very Irrésistible though, as I get some connection to the original - and no, not that better - version, so at least that part of the name is realistic and won’t disappoint you. As for the rest... meh.

5/10
22nd June, 2015

Lalique pour Homme Equus by Lalique

Many Lalique scents share a positive feature: they smell creative. Maybe not entirely compelling, but really unusual, quite “niche” despite the really low price and the wide availability. L’Homme Equus isn’t an exception: it is in fact a really peculiar sort of herbal-woody fragrance standing quite on its own among herbal-woody fragrances. The woody notes smell vibrant and exotic, with that sort of aromatic “African” mood of scents like Idole de Lubin or Trussardi Inside Man (and similar fragrances featuring slightly less common woody notes such as mahogany or rosewood). Bracing and really realistic, powerful “woody” in the best and most natural meaning. There’s vetiver too, but just more as a nuance of the main woody accord, which smells quite complex and colorful. I never smelled a sequoia so I don’t know about that sequoia note, but it smells really good. Then, something leathery (the only flaw here; the exact same sweet-mellow dull leather note as in CH Men by Herrera) provides some “mainstream feature” to the exotic woody base, giving it a shade of weight and “masculinity” (and dullness as I said). Now imagine this, topped with a sort of Mediterranean herbal-spicy-citrus bouquet a bit similar to Rochas Aquaman, or Lanvin Oxygene. Grassy, kind of pungent, really aromatic and again, quite exotic (juniper stands quite above the rest). Some slight resinous-fruity nuances give some warmth and sweetness. And that’s it, there is no significant evolution to my nose except a general drift towards woody-ambery tones. A woody-herbal scent with a colourful sweet vibe and a unique, decidedly “exotic” feel. Refined, totally versatile and really enjoyable. Sadly it smells also a bit thin and quite short-lasting, but it’s a fascinating piece of mainstream perfumery surely worthy a try.

7/10
21st June, 2015

Homme de Grès by Grès

Solid. Maybe a bit boring, but terribly solid: citrus, sharp bitter green notes, oak moss, a barbershop accord of lavender and freshly cut woods. A really “conventional” fresh fougère for men in the same league of Yves Saint Laurent pour Homme, but with a hint of uniqueness lying in the unusually loud tone of the green notes, which smell sour and sharp as hell, enhanced by the astringent citric bitterness and the raw feel of woods, and cleverly “rounded” by something powdery-musky, almost animalic too, I guess due to lavender (you can really smell a ton of it here) and mossy notes. Really simple, sophisticatedly dry, virile and mature, probably not memorable, but a perfect piece of old-school self-confidence in a (fantastic!) bottle.

7/10
19th June, 2015
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S-ex by S-Perfume

S-ex opens as a rather mild sort of heavily synthetic musk-leather scent on the “bright” vinyl side, unexpectedly quite much similar to Etienne Aigner Black, just a bit more sweet and flowery. That same sort of plastic leather-musk-violet blend with a mainstream feel (which means partially “cheap”, partially “crowd-pleasing”). Smoky, spicy, smooth and gentle but “masculine” as regards of the mood, as much pleasant as frankly uninspired for me, easily lost among dozens of similar cheap synthetic leather scents – as I said, by mentioning leather I mean “polished”, PU-like leather, so don’t think of any Knize and similar (rather as I said, think of Aigner Black if you know it; this is really, really similar to it for me – except for the strength and the price, and guess who’s cheaper and less pretentious). I honestly don’t get half of the notes listed, to me this is just a crippled, barely enjoyable mixture of leather aromachemicals plus musky-floral ones and spices, and that’s it. A smooth skin scent lacking in pretty much anything you could expect, with an intolerably short persistence. The whiff of synthetic breezy “ozone” surely echoes Comme des Garçons offerings as well, just with way less creativity and interest. I can’t see reason to own this, but give it a try (be reminded to be really quick).

5/10
19th June, 2015

Lagerfeld Man by Lagerfeld

Easily one of the nices offerings by Lagerfeld for men, partially because it’s decent itself and partially because it would be a really easy win anyway. You can definitely smell Christine Nagel’s favourite notes and inspirations: Lagerfeld Man is a sharp, breezy, really thin Oriental blend based on a really nice and simple balance between cinnamon and cedar, with green-pine notes enhancing the natural-balsamic side of cedar, and some “laundry musk” (or something similar) giving some weight and “masculine” depth to the scent – vaguely barbershop, too. Shortly something similar to many “pencil shavings” fragrances, just with a bit more class and some more complex Oriental mood, mostly due to cinnamon which is quite heavy here, initially at least. Pleasantly refined and virile, even a bit dark and quite sophisticated given the sharp feel of woods and spices and the overall “minimalistic” approach; just a bit linear, the only evolution being a slow turn to vetiver then back to cedar (with an unexpected similarity to Gucci pour Homme II on the very final stages of drydown: Lagerfeld and that do share a couple of notes in fact), and also I am afraid a bit cheap as regards of the material. It does not “scream” cheapness, and Nagel surely did her best to make the most out of the budget; but still you clearly smell this isn’t Fendi Theorema for women or other masterpieces by this same nose. It is more, say, kind of a “budget version” of her skills. Nonetheless it is still really nice and perfectly enjoyable, with also a “niche” feel, just probably a tad below what it could have been with some more quality materials.

6,5-7/10
18th June, 2015

Trussardi Jeans Men by Trussardi

Trussardi Jeans falls within the same “mainstream hedione league” of Dior Dune for Men and the likes, but with a bit more strength, character and colour; the fig-blackcurrant note is nothing remotely resembling to real fruits, but it works fine. There is some sweet-ambery nuances, a hint of smoke, some licorice-like woods (the same anisic vetiver as in KenzoAir, just muskier here), and the result is a sort of “Dior Dune Night”, or “Extreme”. Or “Vetiver Night Extreme”. It smells really similar to the Dior’s for me, just with a different mood, less sunny and a bit more woody and deep. Synthetic to the bone and a bit cheap but playful, “young” and modern, I guess really easy to wear at the gym or for a night out. Nothing memorable and I surely endorse the discontinuation, but decent and funny.

6-6,5/10
18th June, 2015

Anubis by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Double boring alert – for the fragrance, and for my review. Anubis by Papillon is a balsamic suede-incense scent infused with a pleasant, albeit hilariously dull sort of classic floral chypre bone-structure; jasmine, benzoin, something vanillic on the very base, and a hint of something boozy which may be just a side-effect of resins and jasmine. Shortly a soft leather scent with a classic vibe, sort of a hybrid between contemporary suede scents à la Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire crossed with any cheap resinous/myrrh fragrance and topped with that hipster “neo-chypre” wave which seems in fashion lately (Bogue etc.). Sadly, kind of taking the worse features of both. You can easily imagine how this smells then; artisanal, boozy, slightly “carnal” and animalic, at the same pleasantly balsamic, inoffensively leathery, terribly déjà-vu as regards of the materials used, with a whole palpable feel of velvety floral darkness smelling as much pedantic as enjoyable. It is decently wearable, but for the price, the quality seems really mild for me, not to say mediocre. I get a lot of cheap nuances out of Anubis, and in general - and again, as in so many other similar indie scents - the texture and the depth seem really dull for me. Shortly: completely lacking in creativity, and not even that nice aside from that.

I smell here the exact same issue I smell in other trendy leather-chypresque recent scents; it decently emulates some leathery chypre for some 20-30 minutes, then it’s all a rapid descent into flatness, and cheapness. Like a sort of attempt, or an exercise to create a certain type of fragrance with way insufficient materials and talent. Don’t get me wrong, this smells nice, the kind of “congrats for your final essay” nice, which for the price is beyond preposterous. It seems we’re getting used to pay 5 star prices for inconsistent amateurish exercises, and given the hype they get, no surprises that any novice feels launching any concoction he or she manages to put together. Just get any Molinard Habanita and the likes (even current: mentioning vintages would be really like shooting fish in a barrel here), half the price and ten times the quality of this clumsily derivative stuff.

5/10
16th June, 2015

Visit by Azzaro

Cheap ripoff of Gucci Rush for Men; it completely lacks in the class, the complexity and the grace of Gucci, but it is not bad if you’re willing to settle and lower your expectations. I mean, it is a bit like a well made doll resembling to a human being, it looks like the real thing but lacking in warmth and vibrancy – in life, shortly. Azzaro Visit is all about synthetic cedar and sandalwood, with a ton of Iso E Super and some violet; fresh, “urban”, really simple and moderately enjoyable. More dry and more woody than Rush, more peppery/nutmeg too, and above all more openly, harshly synthetic... but decent for the price.

6/10
16th June, 2015

Wolfgang Joop! by Joop!

No offense for the Germans, but so many German fragrances of the last 20-30 years share something really similar in my opinion. A sort of penchant for loud notes, spicy sweetness, and an overall feel of cheapness. Wolfgang by Joop is partially no exception, although it smells better than other fragrances I have in mind thinking of German “cheap-os” (some Boss and recent Baldessarini, or stuff by Aigner, Lagerfeld, and Joop themselves). Somehow slightly similar to Dunhill Desire Red at the beginning, but with a couple of different notes, notably a sweet Oriental powdery-nutty-spicy accord that seems comprising cinnamon, tonka, also something powdery and slightly honeyed (it may just be cinnamon playing tricks, though). Imagine this blended with lavender, a “laundry” musk note and some conventional balsamic-woody structure topped with citrus and orange – more orange than citrus. So in short at its early stages Wolfgang is basically a sort of Oriental spicy scent on the powdery-balsamic side, topped with a fun sweet-citrus note smelling more like orange candies than orange fruits. The evolution is unexpectedly really nice, bringing Wolfgang to a spicy cinnamon-vetiver drydown (similar to the cloves-infused vetiver note in Loewe7) which is really enjoyable – sharp, simple, refined, almost minimalistic, still sweet but silky and mannered. Not bad overall, besides Desire Red (slight similarity and only initial, though) it also reminds me of some aspects of Jil Sander Background, specifically the medicinal-balsamic side which I find almost identical here, just less loud. Tacky sweet-Oriental opening, nice spicy-woody drydown; not bad overall, but nothing particularly recommended either for me.

6-6,5/10
15th June, 2015

H.M. by Hanae Mori

HM by Hanae Mori, not to be confused with the way inferior HiM, is for me hands down one of the most quality and most interesting cheapos ever. It screams fun, versatility, creativity and quality from every side. It is a really playful and quite unique blend of notes which smells at the same time complex and this close to messy, but completely compelling and solid like a really well engineered motor. The key notes which support the composition are citrus, lavender, vanilla and cocoa beans: the zesty freshness of citrus notes, the “masculine” touch of classic lavender, and a gourmand creamy warmth of chocolate and vanilla. There’s many other notes providing depth and “colour” (e.g. spices, something powdery, other herbs, musk), most of which I can’t detect further, but to me it seems these four notes stand out and provide the bone structure of HM. Which is totally brilliant and plain irresistible, as it is at the same time fresh, warm, sweet, creamy but “manly”, there’s dark mellow nuances perfectly balanced with playful fresh top notes and a touch of sweet creaminess.

“Fun” is the word that keeps coming to my head: HM smells happy, lively, fresh and sweet but in no way sweetish or childish, or tacky. It’s like a nice classy comedy movie (say, the funniest Woody Allen’s), which can be hilarious and witty but also totally solid and smart from the point of view of writing and direction (contrary to, say, “teen comedy movies” which may be fun, but technically pure cinematographic crap). HM is quite that, merry and carefree but really solid and “serious” composition/quality-wise. Plus anyway it smells just great, and I am sure I never smelled something so perfectly balancing freshness and warmth, sweet/creamy notes and darker/drier stuff (the kind of composition so many niche scents try to emulate on a regular basis, with half the success and three times the price). It changes a lot, continuously floating between sweet creaminess and freshness, slowly evolving from a more citrus-lavender centered blend, to a more prominent role of vanilla, then switching back to lavender as main character. Lasting crisp and clear for hours. More than just versatile it is purely eclectic. I can imagine anyone pulling this off in any situation, which is nearly the greatest achievement for a fragrance for me. A total steal for the price.

8,5/10

P.S.: review based on the EDT version.
14th June, 2015

Homme Exceptionnel by Montblanc

L’Homme Exceptionnel by Montblanc is nothing exceptional, but it’s really nice in the less exciting meaning ever. It is basically a pedantic but perfectly enjoyable cedar-amber scent infused with a sweet-zesty orange head note, and some synthetic patchouli to give a hint of “dark class”. Nothing more and nothing less than you can imagine; it’s woody, aromatic, slightly sweet, warm and inoffensive, but crisp and discreet. Simple, inexpensive and effective like an Ikea table.

6/10
13th June, 2015

Eaux de Caron Forte by Caron

“Forte” means “strong” in Italian, and boy, this is strong. I am not sure if my bottle is corrupted, but Eaux de Caron Forte is the closest thing I’ve ever smelled to the stale, moldy smell of barnyard after the rain. It’s all here: mossy, green, more pungent and “acrid” than simply citric, with nuances of wet hay, musk, even a grassy smell of wheat. And something plain “fecal”, I guess due to musk. The “fruitiness”, yes, there’s some, but it’s a sort of earthy and rotting type of fruitiness, like in Thierry Wasser’s obscure masterpiece Dalì pour Homme. The only hint of something aromatic and more graceful is bergamot, but it gets completely lost in that stinky concoction. A woody-mossy-musky-citrus scent with a ton of muscles, closer to several masculine dark fougères than to fresh-fruity stuff as one may assume by the composition. Usually this would be a “pro” for me, but here it isn’t really, mostly because it is all really too messy and screechy here. I like dark mossy scents, but this seems completely lacking in consistency and quality: it’s a really sharp and loud blend with something just almost sickening inside it, probably caused by a general cheap quality and by the clash of several heavy, and heavily contrasting notes – the mossy-stale notes, the pungent citric head notes, the musk... a bit like a poor-quality hybrid mixing vintage Eau Sauvage with a dark moldy beast like Dalì pour Homme. Kind of cheap, and incredibly persistent.

5/10
13th June, 2015

Armani Attitude Extreme by Giorgio Armani

Quite a class act, really (really!) similar to several niche scents playing the “dark spicy-patchouli card”. The thickness, the dark refinement, the velvety texture, it’s quite all there. And apparently, back then the “extreme” flanker of a fragrance still had some meaning: this smells in fact clearly connected to Armani Attitude, but as you may expect, drifting towards a darker, bolder version of it. The key notes – patchouli and dusty amber - are still there, but they’re just all “amplified” and made denser and gloomier, mostly thanks to a clever use of spices, something “nutty” I can’t detect more precisely (slightly balmy, like the balmy woody notes used in Escada Magnetism for Men) and a louder presence of musk. Attitude was smoother and smokier, this is richer, more “challenging” in a way, but also more sophisticated for me – just in a darker way, less versatile, less office-safe, maybe a bit harder to pull off. The “night” version of Attitude, shortly, made to please that “night” crowd instead of coworkers and daytime contacts. A sort of more mainstream version of Donna Karan Black Cashmere and similar fragrances, even with a touch of Norma Kamali’s metallic incense, and somehow “Lutensian” too thanks to something resinous and thick resembling to fir balsam, and to that balmy-nutty note. Crap longevity with a nearly-only ambery drydown, but worthy a try.

7-7,5/10
12th June, 2015

Paul Smith Extreme Men by Paul Smith

Here’s another “kind of” winner among Paul Smith range. Nothing extreme here, rather the opposite: Extreme is in fact to me a really mellow, smooth, quite unexpectedly classy and mature sort of citrus-floral-herbal fragrance with cedar, something soapy and slightly fruity, maybe a hint of orange blossoms, and something like cardamom. I also get rosemary quite clearly, bringing this a bit close to Rochas Aquaman and Lanvin Oxygene – they just both develop the herbal-aquatic Mediterranean theme, here it is just more a touch of herb among more classic woods and floral-citrus notes. Which is basically what makes Extreme slightly different from similar fragrances, as it smells basically like a “bridge” between old-school citrus-woody-floral “barbershop” aftershaves, and more modern spicy Oriental ones. Overall a really bright and pleasant scent, quite “synthetic” but I don’t mind that – the smell is incredibly fine and rich, and that is what counts for me. It is a sort of really modern, kind of youngster but really refined sort of classic “eau de cologne”, with its flowers-infused citrus and woody-spicy blend. Shortly a sort of barbershop scent for “downtown lads”, less old-school and a bit more contemporary. Nothing juvenile though, just simply crisp, versatile and lively, perfectly suitable for mature men as well. Longevity is really poor, soon leaving on skin just a faint soapy-musky drydown (still nice, just barely perceivable), but it works fine on clothes.

7/10
12th June, 2015

Elements Aqua by Hugo Boss

Boss Elements Aqua is a surprisingly nice scent, really modern for its era and really quality for being a Boss. It opens with a remarkably balanced and intriguing blend of watery-green notes perfectly interacting with sweet notes of sandalwood and vanilla, something balmy-piney (a bit like fir balsam, just less sticky and more minty), a subtle old-school bone accord of lavender and vetiver connecting Aqua to many crisp and fresh fougères, and something smelling leathery or more decidedly “woody (probably patchouli, dark pepper and woods give me that feeling). I also get cedar and something fruity. It may sound as a screechy scent, it’s not at all: it’s really enjoyable, fresh, mannered and sweet in a classy, “virile” way, played on sandalwood and green-woody notes rather than plain fruity or “sea” aromachemicals. It has something conveying the idea of “water”, and I appreciate it is a result of a clever combination of notes. I mean – you get the notes, and they’re juxtaposed in a way they *also* end in up in creating some “watery” feel. Which is brilliant for me, and I guess it is how perfumes are supposed to be composed. As regards of the fruitiness, it’s Chanel Egoiste’s kind of fruity-woody sweetness, to give you an idea – nothing juvenile or sickening. And in fact I think Aqua shares quite something with Egoiste anyway, as it seems clearly based on sandalwood as “central” note – some real, nice, smooth sandalwood, perfectly connecting with other notes enhancing its facets. Finally what strikes me the most is the final result: Aqua smells quite rich, refined, complex and natural, at the opposite of many other Boss fragrances which to me always smelled a bit cheap and tacky. A bit linear, but really well made with really nice materials for me. Nothing to go mad for, but a nice gem among their range.

7-7,5/10
10th June, 2015

Ice*Men by Thierry Mugler

Ice Men is a really decent, almost nice sort of “fresh” and heavily synthetic patchouli with a dusty amber-musk base, quite similar to the ultra-cheap Patchouly Leaves by Monotheme – just with a bit more weight and richness (but less discreet class and brightness). It is a fun take on patchouli, which smells basically emptied from any “dark” earthiness and sweetness, while its leafy-dusty side gets enhanced in a peculiar sort of “cold-metallic” blend. Both musk and a sort of greenish “bamboo” note similar to the one in O pour Homme by Lancome help in rounding this breezy, half-exotic half-industrial ambiance. It may seem something “creative” but for me isn’t anything special, as if you view it from another point of view it smells basically just like a really cheap and plastic patchouli with some musky greenness underneath. Loud and extremely linear as many other Mugler’s fragrances. Still I wouldn’t say it is a bad scent, if you’re into patchouli and you want to smell some different take on it, here you go.

6-6,5/10
07th June, 2015

Armani Mania by Giorgio Armani

Guilty pleasure. I admit this is clearly utterly synthetic, kind of cheap, with a ridicolously crap persistence...but I like it - for the first thirty minutes (which is nearly the entire life span of Mania) I actually almost love it. It smells like something Comme des Garçons could have come up with, and in that case it would surely have got more praise. Basically it is a really simple, almost “geometrical” cold blend of icy white cedar, violet, saffron (for once, I get a real smell of saffron, even if for really short) and crisp, slightly watery musk. The notes are conventional, and so is the blend somehow: but they get a treatment here which makes them smell metallic, fresh, transparent, really “contemporary” and slightly different from, for example, other “pencil sharpener” scents. Saffron probably gives some spicy twist which makes Mania smell a bit more unique, but also musk plays a role in providing a really peculiar sort of watery-metallic feel underneath the spicy woodiness. Also I get a sort of rubbery vinyl-like feel resembling to synthetic leather, really subtle and oddly “fresh” like the rest for the notes. Shortly a different – more modern, more aloof – take on a spicy “pencil shavings” fragrance, in the same league of Montana Graphite and Balmain’s Carbone crossed with the synthetic transparency of many Comme des Garçons fragrances. This is a bit like a really common piece of glass, just positioned in a slightly different way thus reflecting things differently. Nothing new and nothing great, but it works good and it’s worthy a sniff for me.

6,5-7/10
06th June, 2015

Very Valentino pour Homme by Valentino

Very Valentino is an extremely compelling, refined and classic – almost old-school - fragrance for men, excelling both in quality and class. It is sadly discontinued and seems pricey these days, I won’t take the responsibility to encourage you to spend too much for this (it’s really good for me, but not a masterpiece) but if you happen to find some nice deals, then it’s worth it, even blind. At first it may resemble to many other masculine designers from the late 1990s-early 2000s, as the bolder initial notes are basically sandalwood, lavender, resins and something slightly floral on the “dark” greenish side (carnation), so think of a sort of sweet-aromatic Oriental blend mostly centered on woods and lavender – like many others, as I said. But at the same time, a couple of features make it clear there’s much more, and more unique, going on; first, the quality of the materials seems to me decidedly higher than in the average mainstreams. It’s hard to explain why, it’s a matter of richness, texture, nuances which are most of the times completely absent in cheaper concoctions. It’s that same fulfilling feel many vintages give you, contrary to the boring flatness of many contemporary scents. Then, I think the composition is really accurate and clever, if not almost outstanding: the notes smell clear, neat, quality, some of them are even contrasting yet the blend is impressively tight and consistent. Dark and refined, but also sweet and gentle. Discreetly safe, but unique. One of those (rare) scents you can wear and forget about them, or keep sniffing them to enjoy nuances and transitions – something you can’t really do with cheap stuff.

Sweet, almost “candied” ambery resins brilliantly give weight and warmth to a really enjoyable and breezy top accord of aromatic herbs, something minty-anisic, the bitter-floral greenness of carnation, the masculine whiff of classic lavender enhanced by sage. Dark and bright, classic but modern. Tobacco is a key note here, and for once it’s a really crisp and substantial “real” tobacco note, leafy and earthy, the mellow, dry, “virile” aroma of grounded tobacco (and not that idiotic, juvenile sweet nonsense so many “tobacco” fragrances are entirely based on). Probably the best mainstream tobacco note I’ve ever experienced. The drydown comprises an amazing transition towards a darker, earthier blend more centered on mellow amber, lavender, a (quite conventional) musky base, smooth dry woods (something really aromatic and slightly exotic, part sandalwood and part something else I can’t detect) and tobacco. Even if the notes are different, I keep thinking of Gérard Anthony style, especially Azzaro pour Homme and Cristobal Homme by Balenciaga, with also some connections with vintage Hermès Equipage. I think there’s quite something in common with all of them (probably tobacco and the masculine aromatic-anisic fougère notes of lavender and sage). By Man by D&G? Sure a bit of that too, incomparably better here. Full support, and shame on Valentino for discontinuing this. And now for the bad news... The persistence is a bit crap. It doesn’t last that long, and it is quite a skin scent. But this is sophisticated mature stuff to enjoy intimately, so that fits the style of the fragrance. Recommended!

8/10
06th June, 2015

Armani Attitude by Giorgio Armani

One of the most decent Armani fragrances for man I’ve ever tried, mostly because 90% of the others except the original Eau is quite crap. Attitude isn’t really anything special in fact, but it is at least a bit far from the clichés the rest of the line is so stuffed with. Basically this a really mild, but perfectly versatile and classy sort of amber-patchouli-tobacco fragrance with a hint of coffee, blending the Armani Code type of inspiration with the earthy darkness of patchouli – quite the key here, as it is the most prominent note for me - and the “contemporary-urban” aloof warmth of ambroxan. A touch of citrus counter-balances the general feel of dusty darkness. Don’t imagine anything complex or rich though, all smells also quite flat and a bit synthetic in the negative meaning - like any cheap patchouli perfume you can get at the drugstore, layered with any generic woody-amber scent, with a hint of that sweet synthetic note they call “tobacco” and a generic mood of “dusty dark sweetness”. But as I said, there’s patchouli which makes some sort of difference, while most of other similar scents (the “self-confident middle-class 35/40-something coworker” type of scents) were/are just stuffed with tonka and cedar, this is a bit darker and earthier. Sort of a hybrid between Mugler’s Ice Men and Armani Code, maybe. Getting even more linear and simple on the drydown after a couple of hours. The result isn’t that bad overall, it is in fact quite “masculine”: warm, greyish, kind of dark, rugged at first, a bit heavy and kind of cheap, but it works if you are looking for something stressing your “masculinity” with no frills and no concerns for quality. Everlasting persistence. Completely unworthy the high prices now that it’s discontinued, but back then it was probably the best you could get out of Armani’s line.

6-6,5/10
04th June, 2015

Red Roses by Jo Malone

As the name goes, Red Roses is quite all about rose, played in a way I really enjoy here. It’s fresh, green and breezy, probably one of the most bracing and crisp rose-based scents I’ve ever tried. It avoids any soapy-camphorous effect, far from any classic rose inspiration; rather enhancing the natural fruity-leafy side of rose (also thanks to some citrus notes). Truly a basket of freshly-cut wet roses with no frills. I am not aware whether they used some particular variety of rose here (or if they used real rose oils in the first place), all I know is that this fragrance smells fresh, pleasant and refined – that sort of relaxed, playful, understated “weekend” kind of elegance. Obviously perfect for any formal situation as well. A simple, maybe a tad boring after a while but really effective and highly enjoyable all-rounder.

7-7,5/10
02nd June, 2015