It's all musty catacombs, dust covered remains of resinous altar offerings, smoke impregnated cassocks and sweat infused leathers, pain followed by ecstatic howls and mewling. A light slightly damp movement of air from adjoining tunnels is slightly cooling but unrefreshing. This is what I wanted 1740 Marquis de Sade to be. It's creepy, liturgical, and a little scary, but in parallel possesses a kinky charm that beguiles.
This opens with a dried fruity aura of dahn al oudh before lightening up a more fresh fruity and musky heart with some woods thrown in for good measure. It's hard for me to review this objectively as it's personally not in the sphere of something I'd wear normally, but if you get exited about how a fragrance reminds you of your favourite yummers juicy fruit shampoo, this'll have you spitting out your cupcakes with fevered excitement.
Soft musky dusty dessert spices, powdery amber (not overly sweet), and a woody non-stanky style oud outline this oil. I feel wrapped up and warm as after a good massage. There's an oiliness about it and it feels a little more like a massage oil than a personal fragrance, but that in no way gets in the way of the golden sandy tinged comfort this oil provides. It's not high art, but it's hitting those dopamine receptors. Good at the price point.
This one comes across as a Western/Arabic hybrid, it features (to my nose) lavender and tonka yielding the fresh early noughties fougere style of Amouage Ciel Homme. Later in the progression a dried fruit style dahn al oud is added to the mix as a minor component, subtle but adding some dirty human warmth. I didn't really perceive the listed vetiver in any meaningful way, but that could just be me. It smells good, but I find it feels a bit muddled with what it's trying to say as a composition. So overall a neutral rating, but as one of the lower priced oils not a bad effort.
Light semi-sour citrus with a backing of dry woods and white musk. It's not bad, but there's something screechy about the way the woods are presented, I'm not going to lie and pretend I know anything about synths but it feels like there is something otherworldly hovering in the fourth dimension of the space-time continuum projecting a quantum distortion into the centre of my feeble goopy human brain, and it burns... Okay maybe I'm being unfair, if I smelt this on someone else I'd think it was better than 90% of the dreck out there, but personally I couldn't be followed by it for a day. Price more than reasonable if you click with it.
The subtle woody one my arse, this is a quadraphonic meld fest of woods, woody word associations and weirdness. The base which is dominant if smelling close to skin seems to be formed with a dry sharp and fizzy cedar accord paired with a lactonic sweetish sandalwood. There is a fenugreek/imortelle sticky sweetness that adds burnt richness and sweetened chewiness to the base but also lives out in the projection and sillage. It sounds good doesn't it? But the next part is what lifts it for me, and I didn't even realise till a full wear because if you spray on your hand and test you just don't get it. Living only in the projection more than 6'' from your skin there's an sour slightly icky dank note/accord that I can only describe as being like vintage Route de Vetiver, whatever, it's the poke in the eye to balance the rich and comforting other facets. Most fun of all is that it plays with the chewy sweet fenugreek. It's like some kind of fecked up sweet 'n sour experience, totally novel, it could so easily not have worked, but the balance is spot on. Full thumbs up 5* material for wood lovers.
Al Medina Al Mounawara
Kind of a sour sod of earth with some green rose facets, built off a powdery amber base. Doesn't really do anything for me personally, it just inhabits a sort of olfactory limbo in a sour but forgettable fashion. Meh...
Ajeeb Musk Blend
Earthy dusty and slightly chocolaty patch, with what feels like a little bergamot on top to give a little sparkle to the opening. It's not even a semi-gourmande, but hints at things that may be edible under different circumstances, rather than refined cocoa think of dried cocoa beans trodden into dusty sun baked earth, I guess this is a facet of the patch which presents itself in this manner with green streaks on opening with slight powder. I've read marketing material that labels this as a full on "hippie" patch, and for me I'd associate that with pungent purple laced heady rawness, but I find Ajeeb to display a tighter arrangement with a green powdery side balanced against the tan dusty cocoa side. It feels to me built of a musky and resinous base adding softness and solidity to the later stages of development. A nice blend if you like a light-medium patch, living in the middle of the two extremes of almost psychedelic heady hippie patch and ultra sweetened examples like Coromandel. I don't think it wins me over for a FB purchase but it's nice nonetheless. $54/tola
Sweet golden orange tinged oil (in colour and smell) that's backed up by gentle spices and mildly fruity and woody oud. The sweetness feels the same as what you might experience from inhaling the aroma of dried fruits, raisins, figs or dates, but this is tempered by the woody backdrop. There is also a powdery musk that backs the composition smoothing things out. Solid stuff at the price if a little on the hum-drum in terms of excitement.
This is a fairly light oil that starts with a musky floral lilt running though it which feels like mimosa, sweet but with a vein of tart bitterness. It sits quite close but leaves a decent scent trails in its wake. Quite interesting progression with this one though as the tart aspects increase over time giving the impression of the oil emitted from a squeezed grapefruit skin adding a bracing freshness to the composition. At the beginning I wasn't too sure, but as the tart 'grapefruit' accord developed and a woody accord entered I found I enjoyed this quite a bit, in the end it actually morphs into a nicer version of Malle's Eau de Magnolia, sharp and refreshing unsophisticated fun. Worth checking out especially as the price is very reasonable.
I was sent a sample of this by a friend, and to my delight, I now get to smell what so many of you have been talking about. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to figure out if your nose agrees with what the reviewers say. So, eager to start testing, I sprayed a small amount of Onda on the back of my right hand as we were heading out to the shops today. Wife - not a perfumista - sniffed and recoiled: "That's an ASSAULT on the nose!"
Me: "It's a very expensive perfume by an indie perfumer."
Wife: "And people BUY it?""
Me: "Yes, for $200."
Wife: "What, are they buying it without smelling it or something? Why would anyone buy that once they've smelled it?"
Onda opens with an overpowering Pine Toilet Duck note with an undercurrent of sweaty butt crack. It moves to industrial air freshener and stays there. I walked past a public toilet a supermarket today, and for a split second, I wasn't sure if the waft of Industrial Pine and Lemon was my hand or the toilet (it was actually the toilet, though the fragrance wafting out of there was an improvement on Onda). Once worn for a few hours, the scent remaining on the skin is what I imagine the soiled, sweaty knickers of an industrial cleaning lady would smell like after a hard day's work.
If you've always wanted to wear functional fragrances as perfumes, and like a honeyed unwashed crotch note lurking underneath, this will be your dream come true.
This fragrance is the best example I know to date for demonstrating that ingredients do not a perfume make. The work is akin to someone taking truffles, grass-fed veal and the finest red wine in the world to make a gourmet bolognese, only to drown it in discount brand ketchup.
A few initial impressions. I've not read the notes list so my read on it is purely what it's saying to me (ie I'm probably way off), but here goes.
The whole thing reminds me of a balance of various skin care products (Not a negative), the opening of rich cocao butter laced and white floral body soufflé. There is a green leafy note running though that keeps it from getting puddingy. As it progresses into the heart it reminds me of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse dry body oil and also of old school sun tanning oil, with a little oily coconut. The drydown takes these elements attenuated and adds a white musk, later fading to a plasticy ambered late drydown. Projection, longevity etc are all outstanding.
I was initially a little surprised as it's a different tact from most of what I've tried re O'Driu, but it makes sense as continuation of the path Eva Kant wandered down. In terms of imagery I can't escape Audrey Hepburn and co sur la plage on the Cote d'Azure, all oiled up with the sun beating down, sun loungers out and parasols nodding in the light breeze.
I wasn't sure what to think at first, but this is basically the perfect ode to an idealised beach life scent. It's like the anti-O'driu, this may sound pathetic but it's wonderfully done, great stuff.
What I love about this is the dry white smoke that permeates the pine, bay, and artemisia green resinous accord, it feels almost like powdered stone drifting suspended through gently moving air. After the bracing opening the deliberate restraint lends an introspective and slightly melancholy air somewhat similar in mood to Memoir Man, the subtle dark oily leather in the drydown only adding to the mood. It's the opposite of happy go lucky, but when you're in the mood it seems to touch at a deep level
Lampblack fulfils it's promise of light vs. dark in some style, it feels like a dark rubbery mutant solid heart surrounded by kaleidoscopic orbiting gasses and sparkling motes of light. As deadidol mentions it definitely has a CdG synthetic feel, but with some meat added to the bones, the vetiver and opening citric notes adding a natural comfort that only seems to further highlight the alien futuretech synths. The dark side also hides some delightful associations and surprises (more of that later). What's remarkable is the fact that the sparkling thin gassy grapefruit accord maintains itself to the close, maintaining the light vs dark dance for the full duration, I've no idea what synthetic molecule achieves this but it works wonderfully here, it reminds me a little of nu_be Sulphur in this respect but applied in an even more successful way. CdG lovers I would be awfully surprised if you didn't wet yourself over this.
Lampblack opens with a lifelike citrus grapefruit, with a little sparkle. Shortly after an accurate ink note joins and these two sides define the opening stage. The transition to the heart seems to strip back the grapefruit to a thinner more persistent synthy note, and the ink note morphs slightly, now exhibiting a light rubbery facet. The combination can come off a little sweaty, not a cumin BO sweat, but more the slightly sharp smell of sweat breaking through an anti-perspirant. There is also a de-rooted vetiver (ala VE) and some kind of musk that seems to add a compliant solidity to the heart underneath the swirling mid to high notes, this identifies a little like toasted circuit board lurking around. As Lampblack moves to the drydown the earlier accords remain in an attenuated state and a plumy berried note is added. The effect of this is to add a very slight nauseousness on the periphery that reminds me of the ghostlike form of cyborg wet dog. From there it looses the berry notes first, then the darkest rubber and fades to a close with grey vetiver and the radiant grapefruit synth sparkle. I know I've mentioned some odd concepts above but it's what I'm feeling, but in no way does it come across in a nasty or skanky way, it's more of a artificial digital fascimile of an organic impression. It isn't a beast in strength or projection, but seems to have a pronounced radiance much in the spirit of Timbuktu, and longevity seems good at 8-10 hours.
This pushed all the right buttons. A brief cypriol gust knocks you off balance on opening before falling back to a lactonic green accord slowly transitioning into a lush fruity sandalwood during the heart (there is almost a feeling of honeyed apricots, the colour and texture if not aroma). It's got a wonderful balance between the sweetness, creaminess and astringent woody side, rich but never too much.
An interpretation of sandalwood with modern ingredients having an emphasis on boosting the golden bright aspects of the natural oil. Perfect.
Shares a lot of facets with Ambre 114 to my nose, pleasing but not too complex powdery slightly spiced amber, perhaps could have benefited from a little edge. As the drydown sets in I get a bit of vanillic almost almondy side which is for me a bit of a turn off, I'm not really getting much of the promised animalics either. I guess I'd call it good-meh, good quality and certainly nice if you like your ambers to play politely, but I personally prefer mine with a little more bite, ala Ambre Absolute, Opus VI et al.
Eva the perfume all hinges on the juxtaposition of a bitter spiciness layered over a soft creamy base. The former composed of lemongrass, bitter grapefruit oil from the skin of the fruit with a soapyness from the cardamom, I guess the listed lavender plays in this accord by didn't feel too prominent. This all is feels volatile and expansive. The second side is driven by the resins and vanilla, it sits closer and denser, sweet, slightly powdery and creamy.
Over Eva's progression the focus shifts from the bitter side to the soft base. But things never feel entirely harmonious, their is an interesting interplay between the two at all times almost a combination of avant and classical. If we're talking music think Walk This Way by Run DMC and Aerosmith. Very late drydown turns mostly to vanilla. Projection is moderate/good and longevity +8 hours. After a few wears now I'm liking this very much.
One word can make such a difference...
Been sampling this side by side with Bel Ami (current) they are poles apart. Where BA is soft tan leather with sparkling citrus and cinnamon/cumin spices, BAV is all about, bitter citrus (at opening) with dark musky smokey leather paired with a dominant lush rootsy vetiver. As the fragrance progresses towards drydown things soften up you are left with a gentler smokey vetiver. Projection/longevity seem around par with BA and things get fairly quiet by drydown.
I was ready for this to be a disappointment, but it's actually bloody nice, and deserved is own name rather than have flanker status. JCE did well, it's got whole lot more attitude than you might expect (one may even say butch at least for the opening and heart) and has a vintish feel that makes it instantly comfortable. My admittedly poor nose likes it alot. Should you enjoy leather/vetiver, by all means check this out.
Fate Man opens with a triple front of absinthe, ginger and cumin accords, these are all present and may be perceived in the singular but come also come together in a gourmand manner to give an impression of chewy cinnamon pastries or gingerbread. The heart of the fragrance gets drier and a little more focused on the dark and spicy copahu balm and cumin (the cumin is not at all sweaty, and more gourmand in its application) After around 6 hours when Fate comes back as a skin scent, singular notes seem to waft up in isolation, whether they be copahu, liquorice, or tobacco and taif rose, this goes on for an hour or two, and is a very nice experience. The immortelle is more prominent during drydown and is not too syrupy, but is applied with a little stewed/dried fruit balance and a beautiful creamy sandalwood backbone, similar to that of Opus VI. The liquorice also is more evident during drydown, but still faint.
Silage is moderate and after about 6 hours Fate pulls back to be a skin scent, although longevity is very good and the Fate is still sniffable after 12+ hours.
It is complex, and engaging, yet very well behaved and wearable in most situations. I love Fate Man, it’s a really satisfying wear, and one that seems to get better with time. Great stuff…
Got to say I'm really enjoying the lush syrupy rose, saffron and oud. The opening and heart are rich for sure, but I don't find the sweetness gets to cloying levels. The drydown is transformative where everything losses density and dries off as a musty patch base dominates and fades towards the close.
Colourwise up front is all velvet burgundy with black and green streaks intensifying during the drydown. Definitely a fragrance of two dominant and diverse stages. Longevity perfectly acceptable, for me at least. All in all, good stuff, rich, decadent but with a slightly macabre ending, and all the better for it IMO.
Slightly green for a few seconds at opening, quickly developing into a dry and sweet spiced whole complimented by subtle florals, beautifully blended with oud in a way where the balance of oud and other elements is so fine you can feel every note individually yet simultaneously all falls into the most enchanting symphony. The oud and spiced base becoming more prominent throughout the fragrances progression through the heart, at drydown the oud fades and sweet spices remain as a rootsy vetiver adds interest from late drydown to the close.
What's not to like? BD's trick of presenting density in a transparent way allows what are very rich components never to overwhelm. Perhaps not as intellectually gripping as Oud Shamash, but engaging and satisfying nonetheless. A gorgeous wear.
Fiero opens with a breathtaking tart citrus infused with a massive explosion of aromatic tarragon and herbs. Sweet and tangy blood orange makes a brief appearance padding out the herbal heart. Fiero does powerhouse perfectly, during the opening and heart it's loud, even brash, with everything turned up to eleven. Later soft slightly ashy woods and coumarin support the drydown like a pillow, comforting and warming after the bracing opening, it's a good place to be. Great longevity and massive projection until the drydown where it settles back somewhat.
Fiero conjures a Mediterranean bergamot grove at dusk with herbal aromas arriving on a balmy breeze from the day's sun drenched wild bush hillside. It's a beautiful reference piece of the genre, reminding me a little of a denser, more luxurious and better resolved Bois de Portugal, and also sharing some of the citrus/spicy facets of Bigarade Concentre, but where BG is yellows and oranges, Fiero is verdant greens throughout. Great stuff.
An interesting, solid scent, nothing too special.
Opens with a slightly odd watery leathery note, soon joined by a dry slightly musty sandalwood accord. I’m not too taken with the top of CN, however at drydown it develops a warming incense (with a slightly ambery direction) that is quite comforting, while the subtle patchouli forms a veil over the whole, softening and filling voids.
There’s an interesting play off between comforting notes contrasted with a slightly murky almost damp presence. It’s not noir, it’s washed out grey greens with earth tones permeating. It’s definitely nice, but it doesn't sing to me. There's something about the damp aspect that doesn't agree with my sensibilities. Solid but doesn't stand out.
Pros: Comforting, interesting.
Cons: Odd watery accord"
Creepy, animalic, comforting, malevolent, passionate and ominous.
Opens with a pishy civet bang paired with dark camphorous patchouli like a dark and malevolent shifting shawl. Got to say that’s one of the most bombastic and uncompromising openings I’ve experienced. During the heart amber raises up the background with castoreum giving a slightly ominous but comforting sweetness. Later at drydown wafts of vanilla creep from the depths, and at late drydown morbid and desolate patch powderiness combines and a touch of tobacco.
It’s not a fine delicately orchestrated composition, it’s a dirty carnal sexy beast, there’s no room for guilt. It’s creepy, animalic, comforting, malevolent, passionate and ominous. It's my Nosferatu.
Pros: It’s a dirty carnal sexy beast
Opus VII arrives with a roaring dark green and bracing galbanum /fenugreek tour de force. After things settle and soften a little, a soft leathery accord reminiscent of soft new moccasins enters, while the spices dry off and become more diffusive. I also notice an accord that reminds me a little of scented plastic, ala ‘early 80’s My Little Pony’, it somehow snatches me back 30 years to my second year in school. During the heart phase I experience an apple jack like accord entering the fray, adding a little light and sweetness. I think this is formed as a composite of the green notes mixing with the ambergris and sandalwood. There is also a bone dry whispy agarwood smoke note hovering around, much as it was employed in Interlude. The drydown develops into a trinity of the leather accord (which seems to get more suedey as time passes), the ambergris/sandalwood accord (the sandalwood done in Amouage’s latest style – as for Opus VI, Fate, and Interlude), and the agarwood smoke. Although the galbanum/fenugreek notes are also still subtly present till the end. A very smooth and reassuring drydown.
Opus VII is like an enjoyable three course meal out at a great restaurant, with definite stages and little surprises that build and enhance the experience. Love the stuff.
Pros: Interesting, smooth, inteligent
Cons: The fenugreek can be challenging for some"
Ethereal liturgical mind trip
The first spray yanked me back like a fish caught on a hook to my Catholic upbringing. The sharp liturgical incense note is certainly true to the brief. Don't think I've ever had such a strong scent/memory response.
Although a liturgical bombast at the head, Avignon at the same time is hollow and ethereal, the hand of Duchaufour can be felt keenly (in the spirit of Timbuktu). During the heart the chamomile/floral accord gives some softness and and stops things becoming too astringent. I also found the Iso E Super to be quite prominent after a few hours.
Where Norma Kamili Insence is dense saturated and slightly macabre, Avignon to me has a airy spiritual quality and gossamer lightness, it's very good.
Pros: Liturgical Perfection
Escape to Zanzibar
First of all, respect for the bottle, love the Massai ebony style mask and shaped/surfaced bottle, just stunning presentation.
Idole opens with a rum, berry and dry spice accord. It's heady but with a transparent quality that reminds me of Duchafour's treatment of Jubiliation XXV. There is a resinous note that I read as opoponax, that lends the body a creamy warmth along with the saffron. The composition perfectly captures the east African island imagery. I see this as no way dark, but representing the sunset/dusk time, just when people are lighting bonfires on the beach. I also detect some smokey campfire notes during the heart of the fragrance which help with the imagery (perhaps the ebony note as listed). The sweetness of the sugarcane is also most apparent during the heart, as opoponax dries off. I experience a little very soft and balmy leather during the drydown.
Settles to a skin scent on me after around 4 hours and longevity can still sniff on arm after 8 hours - but it's no powerhouse for sure.
What a trip though, a beautiful fragrant experience and very evocative with lots of imagery of exotic locals, in this Olivia Giacobetti has fulfilled the brief with flair. I really like this one and am proud to add it to my collection. Great stuff.
Pros: Evocative of the exotic
Sensual temple skin scent
The Indian attar accords during the top notes are quite earthy and rich and have a powdery unburnt/burnt incense vibe. They bring to my mind the visual imagery of the steps of an Indian Hindu temple in the afternoon, the smells of incense and peoples perfume as they entered and exited (quite a lovely experience). The incense then opens out with a floral accord that brings a little lightness after the opening.
From the heart phase on I get what I think is costus (or an animal fixative), a warm, sweet, and slightly fatty note. This 'costus' note remains throughout and binds the incense/attar accords into a whole that seems to bind to your skin. I found that 'The Maj' quite quickly became a skin scent, but still one that has an subtle elegant musky radiance. Something very sensual about this fragrance, there's a weight to it almost like you're wearing a second skin, perhaps it's the 'all natural' ingredients that lead to this effect, but it works well in this composition. Longevity seems quite good 6+ hours.
Pros: Sensual, strong imagery,
Cavorting in the forest...
As someone who has spend much of my youth cavorting around in conifer forests during day and night for much of my youth, I know what they smell like... Norne on the initial spray has that deep resinous and sour smell from fresh resin taken straight from the tree bark and rubbed between your fingers... after a couple of hours the sour note of fresh resin has receded somewhat and a different aromatic takes center stage... It reminds me of when you have a bonfire in the forest, and someone throws a wet fir branch on... just at that moment there is a aroma that comes from the burning wet fir, part aromatic steam, part sour hot resin, and part wet smoke. Incredible the imagery contained in this beautiful fragrance...
Pros: Resinous, dark, beautiful
Goes on without to much projection until body heat gets it going. It's a real pleasure to feel the tendrils of scent starting to lift in the minutes after application...
The Oud and saffron dance together sinuously. Others mentioned an industrial setting, I have experience of a steel mill and it did indeed evoke the smells of raw steel, welding fumes and oil.
Industrial vibe recedes and balmy saffron oud takes centre stage, with a little sweetness from cinnamon in support. You can see where this one gets its name here...Very smooth...
Super smooth drydown at 4 hours, and a little stronger than Cashmere at this time. Incredibly radiant, almost hollow.
There is something incredibly alluring about the saffron/oud hollow radiance and musky drydown... it's perfectly judged and very satisfying. My favourite from the Oud Mood collection.
Pros: Stunningly sophisticated