Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

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Total Reviews: 232

Le Mâle by Jean Paul Gaultier

Does nobody else get shaving foam, herbs and mustiness?

**/*
20th May, 2018

Fan Your Flames by Nishane

Sweet boozy coconut with a fresh, penetrating and minty-like overtone. With rolling baccy and an undertone of wood.

A simple and undemanding thing, and not bad, it seems to be designed for layering over your suntan oil before hitting the beach bar; but, I would imagine, completely unwearable the rest of the year.

It's also a blag of What I did on my Holidays.

**/*
18th May, 2018

Raffinée by Dana

Lumbering Fracas.

(Eau de Parfum Houbigant)

**/*
13th May, 2018
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Monsieur Balmain (original) by Pierre Balmain

Germain Cellier's Monsieur Balmain is a classical multifaceted creation that starts with a dry woody citrus - ginger, that leads into a refined aromatic heart, which is layered on a woody leather chypre. It's pretty much Edmond Roudnitska's rather dour Moustache for Rochas cooked sunny side up, but this is much better because you effectively get three themes in one profile. Now pretty dated, the rationale for reformulating it is clear. Still, good work from one of the all time greats.

****
07th May, 2018

Red Door Aura by Elizabeth Arden

Mostly grating orange flower and an interesting iris accord that starts as raspberry syrup and slowly migrates to violet. The combination of snarl and meow is cool, but RDA's prickly Paris rose doesn't reach its full potential, there could have been more. The loud opening gambit grabs your attention all right but there's little development after that, just a slow drying down onto a plain musky base of dubious quality.

An atypical fruity floral that contains the germ of a good idea but which is rather let down by it's front loaded structure.

***/*
05th May, 2018

Sultan Vetiver by Nishane

A frozen jangling mess of tarragon and maybe caraway, sweet powder and pink pepper that all but drowns out the liverish vetiver and cardboard in the base. It's like some kind of nauseating oversweet sinus spray.

*
03rd May, 2018

Salvador Dali pour Homme by Salvador Dali

An astonishing duo of aromatics and filth that ends in a powdery cloud of filled nappy, Salvador Dali pour Homme must be one of the most transgressive perfumes ever. It is said that Dali made his own personal scent using amongst other things his own faeces to woo his wife-to-be Gala, and, evidently, it worked.

Now it would be one thing for an eccentric like Dali to lash up his own toilet water from his own toilet, quite another to go about foisting it on the general public. But Dali the showman was anything but abashed about putting himself before the public gaze, whether it be the melting watches and flopping flesh of his unconscious imagination, goggle eyes and priapic moustache, or in this case the smell of his own shit. Some may see this as just a dirty joke dressed up as a perfume one liner, others could regard it as a daring proto-niche oeuvre that was way ahead of it's time. The difference in viewpoints might have a lot to do with one's tolerance of the scatological - how low down the stank you can go.

Either way, most people would probably agree, Dali's signature scent is - like the man - extraordinary and outrageous. But what's also remarkable about this Jicky on Steroids stink fest is it was composed by that paragon of rive droit respectability Thierry Wasser.

****

For Bob H.
29th April, 2018 (last edited: 03rd May, 2018)

Carrington by Charles of the Ritz

Ten years after the first ever youth masculine took the seventies by storm, TV soap spin-off Carrington took Brut for Men's sweet anisic and oriental fougère, cheapened it, and added plenty of citrus and woods. No longer the chubby and sweet Brut for boys, this new Brut for grown ups has had it's soft pink marshmallow core battened round by hard and flat angular notes. It's like that fat kid in flares who's just discovered that by putting on a sharp suit he can make Loads-a-Money!
***/*
25th April, 2018

Eau des Baux by L'Occitane

The best thing about Eau des Baux is the texture of the two chords - a rubbery squashy marshmallow and an incense dotted cypress.

The contrast between them gives the perfume an unusually raw feel, but because these two chords are so different they lack any common ground and they don't interact. As a consequence the structure lacks internal harmonics, and because the profile doesn't develop much the simple contrast gets a bit tedious.

It smells a bit like peppered marshmallows, a fine dessert perhaps but not a five hour banquet.

***
19th April, 2018

Duc de Vervins by Houbigant

For some reason, I keep thinking this fruity-sweet, green, herbal spicy fougère is actually called Duc de Verveine, probably a Freudian slip; because in my mind, it's the herbaceous-citrus note of (something like) verbena that this slightly thick and flat profile needs before it can really take to the air.

There are worse aromatic fougères than this but there are better ones too.

***
15th April, 2018

Eau d'Eden by Cacharel

Annick Menardo does some great things when she has the opportunity but she also turns out some pot boilers, presumably to stay in a job and pay the bills. This fruity-aquatic chemical dross is one of them.

*
13th April, 2018 (last edited: 22nd April, 2018)

Rose Royale by Nicolaï

If you are looking for a classic rose red soliflor you're not going to find it here. Rose Royale is a creamy pink floral, overlaid with an exotic fruit syrup, a sulphurous top note and a grainy white base. As the profile develops the fruity syrup fades out and the floral gets drier and drier.

To show just how complicated it is, a number of different influences can be identified : first of all a Yardley soliflor named Garden Rose - a delicate pink rose of a certain age. Then the syrupy fruity floral and What About Adam's piquant blackcurrant bud. And then there are : pre-modern rose & violet bouquets, French Lover's natural angelica root style musk, the indolic white floral bouquet. In the base are a Sables style immortelle, coriander, real woods and ambroxan. Rose Royale draws on an unusual mixture of influences. All of these can be felt in the profile to a greater or lesser extent and so it would be no surprise if such an eclectic mix were to seem a bit confused.

The question that arises when smelling Rose Royale is - who is it for? Tweenagers, young mums, seniors, all ages? We can tell from its style that Rose Royale is an elite fragrance aimed at a grande bourgeoise clientele, but whom precisely? The creamy pink floral is likely to be too staid for the youth market, whereas the combination of syrup and the modern trimmings may be a bit too ambitious for the mature lady who already has a clear idea of her perfume preferences. The trendy piquant fruit is not an ideal introduction to the classically soft pink floral, and when the dry grainy woody base comes in it upsets the poise of the mid section. It's not clear which generation would be entirely satisfied with all this chopping and changing. Perhaps its a metaphor of the aging process ... not life in a day but life in a spray.

If RR had not been so ambitious and just stuck to one simple theme it would be more coherent, and possibly more successful, but it would also be a less interesting perfume. This type of mild challenge may be something an experienced perfume lover would relish, but those who just want a nice summer scent for the garden party might decide to go elsewhere.

***/*
09th April, 2018

Panorama by Olfactive Studio

A young fashion student once told me green is the hardest colour to wear, it never looks natural she said. The same can be said for perfume.

The only green notes in the perfumer's palette are either harsh synthetics or a dry green gum. Panorama is so chock full of them that even a citrus accord has trouble breaking through their airless intensity.

After the longest half hour - as the citrus notes give way and a sweet wood takes their place - the green notes calm down. Eventually the profile settles into something more breathable in shades of minty green and brown but by then it's too late. The outcome is mediocre at best and not worth the struggle.

*/*
06th April, 2018
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Rose Perfection by Robert Piguet

When Carlsberg launched an advertising campaign in the UK that described their beer as 'probably the best lager in the world' it was a mighty success. The British loved the comic irony of this modest boast and began to drink the stuff by the bucket load (but then, they have never needed much encouragement when it comes to that.) What's more, the expression "probably..." entered popular consciousness as a catch phrase. The beer wasn't actually all that special, it was just as much the humourous conceit people were buying into.

Unfortunately, there is no such lightness of touch where Piguet's marketing is concerned. When the adjective laden hyperbole that surrounds Perfection : 'voluptuous, sensual, sophisticated' etc, is contrasted with the smell of cardboard and chemicals that accompanies the odour of rose it only serves to highlight just how cynical a work this is.

When it comes to roses there are surely lots of ones that don't insult the buyer with such overblown rhetoric in their attempts to cover up an unpleasantly cheap formula.

Rose Perfection; probably not the best rose perfume in the world.

*
30th March, 2018

Cocktail by Jean Patou

Patou's Cocktail is a plump creamy floral : part fruit salad, part face cream, part woody flowers. A neroli comfort blanket to insulate the well heeled middle class from the shock of the Wall Street Crash.

Henri Alméras' nostalgic farewell to les années folles.

****
25th March, 2018 (last edited: 29th March, 2018)

Close Up by Olfactive Studio

Exquisite gonzoid mash up of sour cherry, bitter black note and beige tobacco - biscuit. Driven by a power pack of ambroxan, like Kenzo World, Close Up's manga sensibility of Krazy Kolor hair, black leather jacket and cyberpunk boots should win it many friends in low places.

****
20th March, 2018 (last edited: 29th March, 2018)

Hypnotic Poison Eau de Toilette by Christian Dior

A sweet and chewy balsamic version which is still recognisable by the distinctive top note, but here - with the brilliant audacity of the original toned down - Hypnotic becomes less Poison and more of a gourmand 'sent bon.' Some will no doubt think that's a good thing...

***
13th March, 2018 (last edited: 27th March, 2018)

Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel

"An affront of fake fruit and brain-eroding chemicals."

"My dog looks severely unimpressed."
Wise counsel from an animal whose nose is so much more sophisticated than the basic model we humans have.

The EdT "smells a bit like an ashtray" and the body lotion even more so.

It's not just that I have a bad sample of the EdP then...

*
05th March, 2018

Y by Yves Saint Laurent

It's impossible to get beyond Luca Turin's description of Y as stockings swishing together...

With an uptight feel like green nylons, this vintage old timer comes across as rather haughty at first - not exactly a Blue Stocking but a slightly less conventional green one; it's still someone you might suspect of having control issues though... Gradually, the frigid green floral does let go a bit and a warm russet chypre comes through.

Jean Amic's Y is one of the best green fragrances ever. It completely lacks the kind of synthetic harshness that often spoils the genre. The keynote green effect lasts much longer on the back of the hand than it does on the body, and as with many classic chypres, Y can be worn unisex.

****


17th February, 2018 (last edited: 28th February, 2018)

Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens

A pretty floral accord and a big bunch of laundry musks.
Better than White Musk by the Body Shop, but at more than twice the price it ought to be. Still unpleasantly chemical though.

*
10th February, 2018

Calandre by Paco Rabanne

Pale creamy pink flowers on a discrete dark chypre, a texture like varnished wood with a light dusting of powder, a little pollen, a total absence of sweetness ; this minimalist forest green floral is a late sixties essay of female power. A formal scent, it seems to demand sharp tailoring and to have a special affinity for the scratchy old fashioned worsteds of its era. Anyone who smells their office manager wearing this should be in no doubt that she means business.

****
06th February, 2018

Queen of Hearts by Queen Latifah

Jam rolypoly oriental. Smells like budget Jeux de peau with more red fruits and more razzamatazz.

**/*
29th December, 2017 (last edited: 09th February, 2018)

Activist by Body Shop

Cheap, sweet and with monster duration. It actually gets better with time - if you can put up with smelling like apple pie that is.

Activist is about as radical as voting Liberal Democrat, whereas Caron's L'Anarchiste - a sort of spicy Bond villain Jaws version is more like the real deal.

***/*
28th December, 2017 (last edited: 05th January, 2018)

Youth Dew by Estée Lauder

I look forward to winter, not for the rain and the cold and the miserably cut off days, but for the chance to dig down to the bottom of my wardrobe and bring out some thick, resinous, spicy oriental; a rich, full bodied composition that would be too heavy and stifling in the heat of July but makes an ideal comfort blanket in January. And among them, one of the stand outs must be Youth-Dew.

It's an amber composite of pale sweet powder, sour-dry orangey resins, and cinnamon. At first there is a nuance of white floral, but that soon fades and incense comes through to back up a cold black spice that adds bite to the cinnamon. Later, a peculiar waxy note emerges, resembling the one that can be found in some 1920's aldehydics - which may show that Lauder haven't messed with the original formula too much. Finally a white musk down at the bottom suggests they may have tweaked it after all...

It's a bit pointless to speak of a traditional head and base structure to Youth-Dew, there isn't much to separate one from the other, it's mostly one long flow of balsamics, powder and spice, and what makes this stolid profile a success is the contrast set up by the two opposing chords of sweet powder and dry resin. They create an internal tension which is then supported by a secondary contrast between the sweet cinnamon and the cold black spice & incense. This allows Youth-Dew to continue in the same vein for hours without becoming dull or boring; it all depends on striking - and then maintaining - the right balance, and perfumer Josephine Catapano has got it spot on in this, her chef d'oeuvre.


This sub-genre of oriental - the spicy resinous amber, first appeared in the guise of Tabu by Dana. Now that a decent formulation of Tabu is a collectors item, it's fair to say that Youth-Dew has become the de-facto grandmother of the lineage. There are two reasons why Youth-Dew has acceded to this status: firstly, Estée Lauder still produce a good formulation of Youth-Dew, and it's available everywhere, and the second reason is that the perfume has benefitted from the way our olfactory tastes have changed since it was released in 1953. Today, it feels not so much like an antiquated feminine but more like a gender-neutral spicy oriental in the manner of Serge Lutens' Arabie or the resinous balsamics of Comme des Garçons Parfum. The similarity between Y-D and these two is palpable.

Because of its age (sixty four this year) Youth-Dew may not be so popular any more - it's not on the cutting edge of fashion after all, but this sweet and comfy feelgood fume could still be worn by anyone looking for an alternative to the Shalimar style oriental.

Youth-Dew the veritable old timer is like a camel coat - a timeless classic. It deserves to be known better.

****/*
21st December, 2017

Elements by Hugo Boss

The elements of this pinched woody masculine are clearly féminité and bois.

The effect is like a watercolour sketch of Notre Dame's plum coloured rose window using pigments mixed with battery acid.

*
23rd November, 2017

Midnight Poison by Christian Dior

Gingerbread, red berries, 'rose', incense, patchouli; retelling of Poison myth, very synthetic. Radiates like Russian nuclear plant. Suggest to avoid but has been discontinued, unlike nuclear plant.

*
22nd November, 2017

KL Homme by Lagerfeld

Sweet and sour geranium rosewood and orange balsam. Stifling and monotonous. */*
06th November, 2017 (last edited: 13th November, 2017)

Tweed by Fine Fragrances & Cosmetics

Lenthéric : Prim aldehydic muguet-rosy green chypre.

***
06th November, 2017

Rush for Men by Gucci

Generic sweet heliotrope style oriental; in the manner of Kenzo Amour but lighter and paler, and here with a slight pique of incense.

Nice, but not completely inoffensive - it gives off chemical whiffs from time to time, especially at the beginning.

Generally pleasant, but bland, and compromised.

***
31st October, 2017

Carven pour Homme (original) by Carven

A hack version of the sour lavender and amber of Pour un Homme de Caron as seen through the distorting lens of Envy for Men. It lacks both complexity and material quality and later it turns stagnant. (It's a traded bottle with no box, who knows where it's been these last nineteen years?)

Get the Caron if you want fine tradition or try to find the Gucci if you're a modernist.

**
25th October, 2017 (last edited: 04th March, 2018)