Perfume Reviews

Reviews by OdilonRedon

Total Reviews: 21

Colonia Intensa Oud Concentrée / Colonia Oud Concentrée by Acqua di Parma

Citrus-cedar thunderclap for the first couple of minutes. Then the oud sweeps in: an extremely dry, woody and - my nose isn't incredible - synthetic oud that is surprisingly satisfying. Sharp but heavy, linear, cedar-y woods prevail at bruisinly high intensity for a good few hours. Five or six hours later, the amyris appears and things begin to soften and slip back into a citrus-incense drydown.

I found myself comparing this to Oud Wood, which is more medicinal - old-fashioned cough linctus as opposed to the more commonly encountered band-aids - and has less of the cedar note (and no citrus). Surprisingly I find I like the AdP better, though compared to the clever TF, this is a brute. It's like being pummelled by a huge Turkish masseur: not completely enjoyable but extremely efficient and you come out of the experience feeling, on balance, the better for it, hence a tentative, and bruised, thumbs-up.
12th April, 2014

Deeply by Maria Lux

Opens as dark, caramelised marmalade and dried roses, but the amber comes in quickly. The references here are gourmand - spices and vanilla - but on my skin Deeply was more of an amber infused with rich, dark tobacco, dried fruit and rosebuds - if there's pepper in there, that might explain the roses. Deep but friendly: comforting without being too comfortable. Very nice indeed.
27th March, 2014

Oud Silk Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

I suspect Silk Mood contains some things I'm anosmic to, because all I got from it was an extremely bright, soapy, rose-tinged oud that stayed completely linear for hours. Have you ever bought a beautiful, almost-open rose from a florist and waited for it to start smelling of something other than the florist's cabinet? That was my experience with Silk Mood. If either the rose or the oud had opened up, it would have been a whole different thing. I detected the same, polite style in MFK's Oud. 'Seamless' seems to be a word used in describing these fragrances and I think here it's taken too far. Or perhaps I just don't get M Kurkdjian's interpretation of oud.
27th March, 2014
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Oud Wood by Tom Ford

My overwhelming reaction to this was 'soapy.' There is oud, or some simulacrum thereof; there's a bit of sandalwood, a bit of cedar, and... soap. A quite conventional, masculine concoction. Ennui instead of amazement. It should be said, though, that on a day of sampling that had me wearing some quite unbelievably expensive scents, this was the one that everyone else liked best. Which says something, I suppose...
16th March, 2014

Oud by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

After the initial, heavenly waft of saffron and a classic (to my uneducated nose) bandaid oud, I was disappointed to find the oud retreating behind a beautiful, satiny wall of saffron and what to me smells very much like nutmeg. And there it more or less stayed. The effect is something like lacquer: a meticulously constructed succession of clear layers that screen but do not obscure the precious thing beneath it. This lacquer effect gets progressively sweeter - stewed plums joining the saffron - but the scent never loses its politeness, its almost perfect assemblage. MFK Oud is a supremely civilised work, but it's too civilised for me. If the oud had been allowed to peep out from behind its screen for a few moments and unsettle things, this perfume would have been fantastic. It lasts a long time (24 hours plus) as a gently woody skin scent.
07th February, 2014 (last edited: 11th February, 2014)

Absolue Pour Le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

The opening is pure carnality. Civet and honey, whipped up with hysterical, cloying rose and cinammon into a startling evocation of human arousal. It's a shock: a liberating one. This settles by degrees into a seductive, powdery, spicy, honeyed dance in which incense, rose and the sweaty civet all play a part. After a few hours musks take over, and for a while I found it very similar to MKK. Then the honeyed incense returns, with sandalwood this time. And for the next day or so a gradually fading complexity continues to give delight. Completely and utterly worth it for the opening alone, this is a wonder from start to finish. Possibly my favourite scent.
07th February, 2014

Aoud Cuir D'Arabie by Montale

I hesitated before opening the vial of Montale's Cuir d'Arabie. It comes freighted with a hellish collection of epithets, and 'fecal' comes up with disturbing frequency.

To my surprise and relief, I didn't find any sh*t in the opening. Instead, I felt I'd been whisked back in time, to the early 70s and to a shop that used to sell leather sandals, bags and belts from Greece and Egypt. The leather was thick, stiff, freshly tanned, still smelling of the raw skin and tanning materials you might, perhaps, not want to think too hard about. The whole shop reeked of it: a complicated, sharp pungency, slightly disturbing, but not so disturbing that it stopped the whole family from buying sandals. This vivid, rustic leather lasts for a good hour. Then, for a few minutes, there is a hint that your new sandals may have just stepped in something questionable. Things threaten to become rougher, more animalic. But the threat is never realised. Oud appears, a hint of rose. I thought it might be turning into Oud Lime, but instead things become warm and spicy. Leather is back, but more sophisticated: rubbed with cinnamon and carnations, and a lingering suggestion of hide and nasty things in the tanning vat. Magnificent.
30th January, 2014

Serge Noire by Serge Lutens

Huge, complex explosion of aromas. Savoury foods - yes, a fleeting glimpse of sizzling onions - some spices, charred frankincense. The spices are unusual: not the cloves and cumin I was expecting, but something like ajwain and black onion seed - is this the patchouli? Then it changes to hot spices. Making garam masala at home, and dry-roasted the whole spices in a skillet... But that doesn't last. Frankincense emerges, strong and dirty, tinged with powdered ginger and cloves. If Sahara Noir is the priest swinging the censer and Avignon is the incense stored in the locked vestry, Serge Noir is the church filled with people, washed and unwashed, coming to the midnight mass after cooking and eating their dinner. There isn't a vivid body odour smell, more an impression of humanity, a presence, which reminds me a little of L'Air de Rien in conception (but not in scent). After an hour or so the congregation brings out thick sticks of Chinese sandalwood incense and start to burn those too. A slightly sour, overripe patchouli softens things up. Much later, there is a gentle, vanilla-amber dry-down.

Exhausting, but quite beautiful.
21st December, 2013

Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens

A spicy panforte rolled in fresh cedar shavings. This is a dense Lutens, similar in its infused syrup heaviness to La Fille En Aiguilles, but unlike La Fille, the weight and linearity of Santal Majuscule failed to charm me. There are moments of beauty: the fig mentioned by Darvant appears at one point but doesn't stay around for long enough, and various fleeting glimpses of the promised sandalwood also pop up, only to be swallowed up by the syrup. Fatiguing and long-lasting. Tantalizingly, when I woke up the next day, all that was left on my wrist was a lovely, matter-of-fact sandalwood that I would have praised to the heavens if it had been the main event.
09th December, 2013

Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens

A tobacco merchant's premises in the depths of the Istanbul Grand Bazaar. Someone is sorting bunches of pungent Yenidje tobacco. Someone else is cutting it. Tobacco is ageing in jars stored on shelves of polished wood. In the outer room, customers are trying out blends in long-stemmed pipes. Next door, the sweetmaker is caramelising a pot of sugar and pouring out trays of honey and rose loukoumi and a tanner is tooling leather across the alley.

Fumerie Turque opens with a pungent leather and honey with a slight hint of smoke which gives way to a delicious burnt toffee tobacco tempered with dark patchouli. The leather becomes more animalic. The drydown is a caramelized amber with undertones of dark, resinous incense. This is a heavy, fur-lined kaftan of a fragrance: rich, enveloping and luxurious. Absolutely wonderful.
27th November, 2013

Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire

Huge blast of vodka up front - very specifically Zubrowka, the Polish Bison Grass vodka, which has a very distinctive vanilla/lentisk/sweet woodruff scent. It's this that morphs into a volatile, rich amber, a definitely gourmand, dessert amber which eventually dries down rather beautifully through more lentisk and incense to a slightly sharper finish close to the skin, which might have a touch of birch tar (from the Russian leather). Too much on me, unfortunately, but lovely on the missus.
13th November, 2013

Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire

Review by OdilonRedon

As others have said, starts with a massive alcoholic waft: vodka, but in particular the Polish bison grass vodka, zubrowka, which has a very distinct, mastic-like note. Out of the vodka emerges a slightly soapy cherry brandy/amaretto - soapy as in the little wrapped bars you find in up-market hotels. Not at all unpleasant but very distinctive. The vodka fades but leaves the mastic note and a fruity, salty amber. Occasionally, a strong whiff of baby powder. Things calm down into a zubrowka-and fruit-tinged amber with hints of cumin, salt, leather and cigarette smoke but the liqueur-like sweetness doesn't go away. For me, not remotely as wearable as Ambre Sultan. Ambre Russe is fascinating but unpredictable.

09th October, 2013

L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris

L'Air de Rien is a complex, rather demanding fragrance but it isn't 'dirty' or 'skanky' or in any way disreputable. The demanding aspect is in the play of various balmy, highly evocative notes that seem to be about to settle into something warm and comfortable but instead keep shifting into something slightly off-balance, which is in itself comforting, in the way that wandering from room to room in an old, long-inhabited and deeply loved house is calming and also stimulating: who lives here? What do they look like? Who do they love? And... will they love me? There is a sensation of looking at a world encased in a piece of amber: this is a golden scent, the play of indolic florals, moss, resinous amber and musk. Highly natural but not animal-dirty: the rather erotic loucheness comes from the ingredients being themselves, not trying to imitate unwashed human skin. Fascinating and completely wearable.
14th May, 2013
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L'Eau du Navigateur by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This is obviously an intriguing and well-constructed fragrance but unfortunately for me its central note is something that I find so vile, it had me scrubbing at my wrists with nail polish remover. I think it might be the coffee interacting with the leather accord. It's a shame because, sniffed from the bottle, it has a lovely and intriguing air that reminds me a little of London streets in autumn: Plane tree fruit and leaves mixed with petrol fumes. On my skin, though, it becomes the worst, most stifling barbershop scent ever. And longevity is insane.
30th April, 2013

Original Santal by Creed

This is pretty ghastly. The initial effect is a cloyingly sweet cherry lollipop which transitions through various fruity lollipop flavours before settling for a monolithic, super-sweet Creed-flavoured lollipop. Creeds have a particular Creed-ness about them: thin but hyper-insistent. They are the pub bore of fragrances. This one is still yelling in my ear hours after I've stopped listening. And not one molecule of sandalwood in the whole creation.

Worth mentioning, though, that others found this quite pleasant, though none could detect any sandalwood whatsoever. "Smells like rich people," someone said. Great, but I'd have preferred to smell like sandalwood.
27th April, 2013

Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Soho, London, 1985. After the club shuts down, the clubbers gather at the all-night patisserie for coffee, pastries and gossip. Everyone is crammed together in the queue, hot, sweaty, over-sprayed with heavy 80s perfumes. Chocolate croissants and cinnamon danish are being devoured. Nobody wants to go home alone.

Musc Ravageur is a warm, dressed-up vanilla pudding of a scent. It takes a couple of minutes for the pudding to emerge from a rich, erotic fog of hot animal, but (too) soon all that lusty funk vanishes and you are left with rich, dense cinnamon, vanilla and tonka which eventually turns to a sweet amber. On my skin it isn't structured or subtle and the patisserie middle is exhausting, but I do like the morning-after glow of the dry-down.
08th April, 2013 (last edited: 12th April, 2013)

Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

The opulent coppery gold of the liquid doesn't prepare you for the jagged herbs of the opening. This is like pushing through a thicket of sage and marjoram and thyme on a hot morning. Then the amber appears, huge and almost stark: not sweet or cuddly amber but a salty, unpolished gem washed up on a beach. A thread of incense eventually appears and adds an extra dimension. This is a truly amazing fragrance.
08th April, 2013

La Fumée / La Fumée Classic by Miller Harris

Big hit of burning incense up front - the first time I wore this I got Tibetan Buddhist style with some appropriately funky woods and burnt resins, but now it's Orthodox Church frankincense and myrrh with a hit of burning pine. I found an odd sweetness first time out but it hasn't reappeared: now I get fragrant gum, the smell of Bay laurel in flower, burning resins - Greek Church all the way - until the drydown of spices and warm labdanum. While Avignon - the comparison is inevitable - is a High Mass in winter, La Fumee is a summer saint's day on a Greek hillside in summer when the priest brings the censer outside and the smoke billows out over the sun-warmed cistus, thyme and sage. I'm glad I persisted with this one as it is rather amazing.
17th March, 2013 (last edited: 11th May, 2013)

Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Horrifyingly rigorous post-modern recreation of early 70s Brut and those who wore it. I was transported unwillingly back to about 1972 and the way adults smelled to me as an 8 year old: stifling aftershaves, slightly musty though recently pressed flannel suits and an impossible-to-ignore note which I can only describe as the smell of a block of alum after it has been rubbed over a fresh shaving cut. A million miles from Savile Row, but not from the easttbound District Line during the morning rush hour, when Ted Heath was prime minister.

Neutral only for the sheer intensity of my reaction. I can't even handle this as irony, let alone on my skin.
17th March, 2013 (last edited: 18th March, 2013)

Vétiver Extraordinaire by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Starts off with a huge, vividly green vetiver punch. Nostril-searing but also highly detailed. So far so good... but an hour later it has faded to a slightly powdery phantom. No, wait... I'd given up on it but it's back, with the edges smoothed off, more presence than ever, and a minty hint of sweetness. On my skin this slightly resembles Memoir Man, and I think there is a definite skin chemistry issue here, as on me the dry down is incredibly long and smooth with a distinct vanilla note: I don't get any dampness. My lasting impression is a sort of satisfying generosity. Comfortable and enveloping.
28th February, 2013 (last edited: 08th April, 2013)

Royal Oud by Creed

Opens with a cloud of green, citrus/resinous wood and an airy spice, something like bay trees in flower; drifts down through expensive furniture polish and cedar to old-fashioned pot-pourri - a masculine pot-pourri, if that isn't a contradiction. Reasonably interesting throughout its long presence. I'm not usually a fan of Creed - I find they are thin and too insistent, both at the same time - but this has a bit more depth as well as presence. Unfortunately this one - though it doesn't have the stiflingly powerful mediocrity of the others I've tried over the years - ends up as the usual Creed with a bit of something rather nice on top.
21st February, 2013 (last edited: 27th April, 2013)