Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

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Total Reviews: 424

Chergui by Serge Lutens

At first, Chergui's not bad;
like dried meadow hay,
moistened with glyerine from tart glacé cherries.

But it's linear, and,
as it loses nuance and savour
boils down to an herbaceous-bland-oriental with a sharp cutting overtone.

They don't harmonise too well,
and by the end, it
gets a bit
snarky.

3*
04th May, 2020

Fuel For Life Spirit by Diesel

Confectionary and woods.

Accident in a sweet shop.

3*
02nd May, 2020 (last edited: 05th May, 2020)

JCC No. 2 by Jean-Charles Castelbajac

Sandal fruity chypre with a fizz.
And later it gets powdery.

Not bad, but it smells
like a mild version of Sinan.

3*

Carded vial EdP
30th April, 2020 (last edited: 05th May, 2020)
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Megara by Le Galion

Most perfumes by Le Galion were made by Paul Vacher, a lesser light of the mid 20th century who also did technical work for Parfums Christian Dior. But Vacher wasn't just a technician, he was a creative perfumer in his own right. He was the author of Le Galion's big success Sortilège (Magic Spell), and he also composed Diorling single handed, as well as co-signing two great classics, Arpège and Miss Dior.

Unfortunately, Megara wasn't made by Vacher but his daughter, who created it in homage to her father after he had passed away. Megara is a green aldehydic floral, somewhere between the original Y and Ma Griffe, and this is crossed with a No5 style rosy bouquet.
It opens with a mushroomy note - from a poorly judged gardenia, and in the early stages it feels sort of boxy, but as time goes on, the red rose bouquet overcomes the greens and the white floral, and then it takes centre stage.
The rose is stronger and more clunky than the Chanel but it's bitter-syrupy, and quite liquid, and makes a nice contrast to a dense-powdery and stuffy lipstick iris - the other part of the mid section.
Eventually, the two merge into a base of musky rose and balm, which is underscored by a long tail of aldehydes and bone dry flowers.

Mégara travels a long way from start to finish and the journey is quite interesting, even if it strays off the path from time to time. It's a weighty and ambitious work, and Dominique de Urresti put everything into it, possibly knowing this was the one and only chance she would get.

...

The packaging is a bit confusing, and it makes me wonder what was going on with Le Galion at the time. The name sounds like Megaera, the Greek Fury of jealousy & envy, who also punished people for adultery, and the illustration on the box hints at cannabis plants... What does it all mean? I have no idea.

...

This was Le Galion's last perfume before the company was sold, and after that, it was - according to the website - 'badly managed [and then] quickly collapsed'.


Megara was an elegaic farewell to a minor perfumer of the Classical Era, but it could do nothing to prevent the decline - and subsequent fall of Le Galion, aka the house of Vacher.

3*

Boxed 7.5ml miniature complete with corrugated inner sleeve

28th April, 2020 (last edited: 05th May, 2020)

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

Peppery citrus and spicy apple pie.

3*

Carded sample, dated 4 years BCv (Before Coronavirus)
25th April, 2020

Sagamore by Lancôme

In the first instance it feels a bit odd. Tangy, sharp, even vinegary. It's a strange spicy smell and not quite right. But after a few minutes the plan is revealed.

Sagamore is a collection of spices, warm herbs, evergreen resins and civet, and they combine into a red grubby funk of bay rum and bodies - which anyone who's smelled Cuba will recognise. But unlike John Stephens' 2002 creation, Sagamore isn't content with the whiff of a back street shebeen, it doubles back from the West Indies to an oriental boudoir. And here, Sagamore is closer to Nathalie Feisthauer's Havana of 1994.

This manouver, from bitter to sweet and hard to soft, was originally done by Shalimar, but in that case the relative weights of spicy animalic head and oriental body were reversed. But modern versions of Shalimar don't do this any more - so great was the animal pong of the vintage it has now been cleaned up; something which it's down to these current scents to preserve.

Another possible reason for Guerlain's caution can be seen in the transitional phase, when Sagamore moves from the raunchy red spice to its oriental support. During this time all the spice-fuelled audacity is lost and the profile threatens to sink into a shapeless quicksand of vanillic balsam. But it comes through that, and when it does the reveal is sudden, and wonderful; like rum soaked pirates breaking through a Dead Man's Chest and gazing on the burnished treasure at their feet.

But of course, like buried treasure around pirates it doesn't last long and the effect soon fades into the sweet and musky oriental. This only happened once I tried wearing Sagamore; on paper and skin it doesn't really bloom, and isn't that good.


Although I've only got Havana in the aftershave, I think it's probably fair to say that it's a variation of the theme of Sagamore : spicy bay rum and raunchy red funk, set on a soft balsamic ground; and also, you could say, Cuba is a slimmed down version - without the oriental.

Whether new Sagamore is the same as the brown bottle vintage, I can't say. So it may not be worth chasing it down, unless of course Havana and Cuba are all time favourites in your collection, and drink and the devil have done for the rest...

4*
23rd April, 2020

Lady Million by Paco Rabanne

Rabanne's low rent Guy Thing in female form, ie : it's got a fruity & orange blossom heart, the spiky woods have been scaled back and the base is now smooth.

After a piquant opening it calms down to become sweet and powdery-woody, but it's still a bit caustic - thanks to remnants of the spiky top and the indole in the orange flower. So even though it follows the same path as 1 Million, Lady M feels like the edges have been focus grouped away and what's left is far more bland than the original cruddy thing.

Presumably this neutred version was thought to be 'feminine' or even 'lady-like' by the target audience, or maybe they just go for the nakedly aspirational Gold Digga imagery...

Personally, I find this mix of chest beater and fruity floral as classy as a love heart tattoo. But putting all snobbery aside, I think Lady Million is a boring scent that sells any poor sucker short that buys it.

(Like me when I bought 1 Mil)

2*

Dis carded sample found in the street
21st April, 2020

Idôle by Lancôme

Lancôme call this a white chypre, and apparently, it contains : jasmin, and four different types of rose - which have been extracted in three different ways - and sourced from two different places. And that's not all, it has magical properties too; it will help each woman 'become her own idol' and reveal her aura, her "glow".

That's as maybe; to me it smells like an aggressive fruity floral of peony and pear that's been loaded up with synthetics. In fact it does a pretty good impression of the clogging stench you get from laundry tabs.

So, with feelings of trepidation, I uncapped the decant and scraped a modest amount on my chest. Three and a half hours later, and I honestly can't tell if my aura has lit up but I can report a pain in the nose.

Idôle is an anagram of Ô lied.

*
18th April, 2020 (last edited: 29th April, 2020)

Insolence Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

A dry and fizzy violet bouquet, with a chewy vanilla ground and the raspy feel of indole.

As Luca Turin pointed out, this is Maurice Roucel's homage to L'heure bleue, but here, a red fruity floral has slipped between the violets and their sombre blue backing; which doesn't change the shape but the mood is lighter. Instead of watching the gas lights twinkle on the quai Branly we have an extrovert - who wants to Hit the Town and have a good time.

It's quite a paradox really, how Roucel managed to turn L'heure bleue into a bit of an airhead - while at the same time showing it no disrespect. He walked the line between trashy and good taste, low commerce and high art, and the result was a sparky and fun thing which is still - underneath - a serious post-modern perfume.

4*

2006 carded vapo, still good
17th April, 2020

Diva by Ungaro

Diva is a tuberose bouquet. But 'bouquet' hardly does it justice. This is tuberose plus (almost) every floral known to perfumers ... plus bergamot and heavy citrus, plus spice and aromatics, plus a creamy orris note ... and plus a massive patchouli chypre revving its engines in the basement.
It makes for a startling image : our diva, arriving at the glizty reception on a rip-snorting motorbike while acrid whiffs of pollution cling to her wacky, bias cut cocktail dress.

Like many of the 80's tuberose blockbusters, Diva is an impressive achievement, but one which is, I would have thought, well nigh impossible to wear these days, unless of course you're a drag queen - and then it must be de rigueur.

4*
15th April, 2020

Theorema by Fendi

With its resiny orange and powdered woody floral, Theorema begins like a niche eau de cologne... but it's much more than that.
It bears an exotic and overripe fruity note that makes the heart feel edgy and strange, and then, as time goes on, a gorgeous dark undercurrent sweeps it through a rich, sweet and spicy kind of mango Diorella - and on into pain d'épices.
And finally there's a whip lash of incense that brings you to your senses.

As Spock would say of some alien presence who'd just beaten him at 3D chess - and then materialised as a Vulcan beauty queen ... fascinating.

*****

Full miniature in triangular wedge box
13th April, 2020 (last edited: 29th April, 2020)

Nagada by Pascal Morabito

A peach oriental with a sharp note running through it, this is Scheherezade, spinning out her tales every night while the excecutioner's sword awaits her head every morning.
Unfortunately, the smell is rather strident and a bit plain and wouldn't keep the sultan amused for an evening, never mind 1001 nights.

2*

Pristine boxed sample
06th April, 2020

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac by Jean-Charles Castelbajac

Masculine leather chypre in the style of Miss Dior, but without the flowers, or the finesse.
JCC opens sharp, with evergreens and aromatics (and what could be chypre damage to the top notes) and there's a weird fatty note from the leather; and then - when the chypre base comes through - it turns into a kind of sweet dusty and spicy brown mud.
Like a bad painter who's mixed up too many colours.
Not recommended.

3*

5ml bottle, no box
04th April, 2020
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Aramis by Aramis

Aramis, that woody leather stalwart; doesn't it smell kind of Old Man these days?
Well, maybe...

When I haven't worn it for a while, I remember Aramis as a mix of walnut burr and dark brown leather, the hoary old grandfather of a thousand chypres. And that's just what it is, sort of...

Aramis hails from 1964, which was a pretty dark year in many ways: Vietnam, race riots in the US, the police inciting more riots by breaking up Rolling Stones gigs ... and meanwhile in England, Pete Townsend was smashing up his first guitar on stage. But there was also a lighter side to '64: the effervescent Mary Poppins appeared in cinemas for the first time, the Moog synthesiser was born, and there was Beatlemania on both sides of the pond.

Looking at Aramis from the vantage point of half a century we can see how it reflects the times, both dark and light. It could be said that the dark woody leather of Aramis feels heavy and passé, rather old fashioned these days. But like Sean Connery in the role of James Bond, Aramis has a suave Cool that goes deeper than any trend, it has that timeless quality, Style.
And this is because, like the year, there is another, lighter side to Aramis that bursts out of the opening like the 'driing' at the start of A Hard Day's Night, a thrilling accord of citrus and aromatics that turns a dull leather chypre into something quite wonderful. Spray it on fabric and this blue aromatic overlay continues to leaven the brown woody leather for ages, giving Aramis the kind of finesse you would expect from a most refined fougére. This was inspired stuff from Bernard Chant, one of the best of his chypres, the genre he excelled in.

1964, what a year... Goldfinger, Hard Day's Night, Aramis: you wait ages for a masterpiece and then three come along all at once!

*****

Modern FB
01st April, 2020

Pierre Cardin pour Homme by Pierre Cardin

Smells like glass cleaner.

2*

Full bottle, sadly
30th March, 2020

Montana Parfum d'Homme (original) by Montana

Bit confusing this. It starts as a dense powerhouse fougère - book ended by citrus and spice, with strong chypre markers (of labdanum and then later moss) and by the end it settles into an oriental base.

It's like there are two parts here. The development goes from fougère at the top to oriental underneath, but without losing much of the top half - the labdanum powered fougère and the citrus (hydroxy) last an incredibly long time. And so it feels more like the base unfurling beneath the fougère - rather than the top declining away (which of course it does to some extent - but not that much).


People say PdH smells like Havana and there's also a comparison to Old Spice.
I agree with both camps. PdH's spicy note clearly recalls the one found in the Rich Fougère of Havana, while the complete profile of PdH is quite like the more rounded Classical Soft Oriental of Old Spice. These classifications are from Michael Edwards by the way, and - in case you're wondering - PdH is a Crisp Woody Oriental.

But I think there's also a case for seeing PdH as a chimera, a bi-generic hybrid - like Xeryus, Alberto Morillas' 1986 fantasia that Luca Turin described as 'a lungfish with both legs and gills'. And a bit like Xeryus, Parfum d'homme's fougère, (chypre) and oriental themes make for a mish-mash of genres, a perfume that's hard to categorise. It's an interesting work but it's not great, there's a cleverness to it, but it's a bit crude; it's not as good as Xeryus.

In short, this isn't a brilliant perfume - but it's not a boring one either.

3*

FB bought in a discount shop in 2017, so it's a reissue of the original.
29th March, 2020

Ébène by Pierre Balmain

Ebony? Not really...
Ébène starts off as a strange, challenging version of the anisic fougère, played out in a minor key with the hybrid note of caraway taking the lead: part spearmint, part fruity-herbal-spicy.

This minty-but-not-minty note fits somewhere between the anisic and spearmint sides of the structure and forms a bridge between the two, but this doesn't bring Ébène anywhere close to the perfumistic centre. In fact it has the opposite effect, making it an outlier on the fougère spectrum.

The fact is that mint is usually approached with caution by perfumers, the associations with toothpaste are just too strong for many people. And caraway, mint's isomeric cousin, is also problematic. Think of minty rye bread and you will see what I mean. It gives the scent a strange rebarbative quality, uncomfortable, not quite right.


The caraway note is later engineered into its better role as part of the drydown, which tries to evoke the hardwood the scent is named after. But that only works if you keep your mind on the rosewoody side of carvi and try to ignore the roggenbrot...

So it was for-sure a bold move to use the (+)-carvone isomer in Ébène, and hats off to those who stuck their necks out in this way. But there is a reason why some things aren't done, namely - they don't work, and for me this is a noble failure. Interesting, but not something I would choose to wear. And wearing fine perfume is what it's all about, no?

2*+

Carded sample vial
26th March, 2020

Kipling by Weil

At the risk of repeating what others have said : Kipling is a woody-spicy leather chypre that smells like Quorum.

Michael Edwards dates Quorum to 1981, some five years before this, which means that even though it smells good, Kipling amounts to little more than a cut and paste job of someone else's work.
Minus one star...

3*

Carded vial
26th March, 2020

Miracle Homme by Lancôme

See Rush for Men (2000).

3*

Part used spray sample with no card.
25th March, 2020

Drakkar by Guy Laroche

Musky brown Seventies thing.

Spicy chypre with a nutmeg theme - and with resiny evergreens and aromatics - and this is crossed with an oriental.
And then, on top of that, cedar and citrus to bind them
...
which feels like Pino Sylvestre meets Old Spice in the land of Bilbo Baggins.

Time to unearth the Prog Rock albums from your dad's attic...

3*

Carded vial
23rd March, 2020

Vetiver Sport by Guerlain

This Vetiver flanker was released as a stop gap after the sudden departure of Jean-Paul Guerlain and before the arrival of Thierry Wasser a couple of years later.

This was a difficult time for Guerlain and information is hard to come by; so it's not clear who actually composed this but it seems to have been done under the auspices of Sylvain Delacourte, creative director at the time.

The juice is an attractive reworking of the original grassy vetiver, rounded out with a sour-citrus head and nutmeg. It seems to capture something of the spirit the original, but it also feels like a stand alone piece - rather than the original-with-a-twist flankers we often see now-a-days.

Delacourte was apprenticed to JPG and worked alongside her boss for a good ten years before this came out, so perhaps that explains why Vetiver Sport feels like a fresh version of a tired old story : it's her vision expressed through his structure and using his methods ?

Personally I prefer it to the original.

4*

Part used bottle from a flea market with no box. So if the sour vinegary note strikes anyone who knows this as odd, that's my excuse.
20th March, 2020

Byzance by Rochas

Old Byzance was like a smoother relative of vintage Shalimar. She had a similar, if less curvy build to her oriental cousin and was creamy and lighter, with a soapy - fruity - raspy disinfectant tuberose, which partly replaced the camphor and civet raunch at the top of the Guerlain. But as it develops, Byzance moves away from comparisons with Shalimar - the oriental ur-mother (thanks Claire) to become more of a generic sweet oriental that just happens to have a note of tuberose. And even though Byzance is much newer than classics like Joy and Arpège, it still had something of their rich and creamy feel. But that doesn't mean it transcends it's era in the way that some classics do, the oriental tuberose style really nails it down to the 1980's. Despite all that, this was still a fine piece of work, and if you happen to be glamming it up, vintage Byzance might be just the thing for your Night at the Opera...

4*

Little blue vintage bottle
18th March, 2020 (last edited: 15th April, 2020)

Vetyver Lanvin (new) by Lanvin

Sour green woody thing that has little to do with vetiver, and a lot to do with the chemical head notes of Post Aquatic things like Beyond Paradise and Davidoff Echo (also 2003).

The only decent part is a sweet and spicy heart section, but it's not very well integrated with the rest of the perfume and really not worth waiting for.

2*

Miniature bottle w/o box
16th March, 2020

Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens

A less ordinary oriental would be hard to find. Fumerie Turque is basically a gross animal note, accompanied by the Turkish Delight flavoured smoke of a narguilé.

Simple and effective, but whether you like such a mix of the raw and refined can only be answered in one way. Definitely try this one before you buy.

3*

Bell jar
15th March, 2020

Givenchy III by Givenchy

It seems to me that the original Givenchy III, like many old chypres, was designed to go with tweed skirts and tailoring. But when it was reformulated, it turned into something more like a suave modern accessory to the roll neck sweater.

This new version is a silky green chypre with a direct straight through cast - giving it a modern fairly minimal feel. There are florals, but they're pale and discrete, and it's sweet - but also dry. The main sense of GIII is a silky floral greenness with a finely blended chypre that stays in the background. Very nice.

But this is a green chypre and the synthetic green notes tend to break through in the end, upsetting the balance of a hitherto lovely work.

- - -

Judging by the bemused reaction of the Givenchy SA when I told her 'No, don't gift wrap it thanks, I'm going to wear it myself', it would seem that LVMH (or at least their people) had no inkling of what had happened to GIII - which had transformed under their noses from green Old Girl to Unisex Chic.

4*

FB June 2012
Vintage miniature with no box
12th March, 2020

Versace l'Homme by Versace

Versace l'Homme is an old classic that, even in its modern version is a rich ginger oriental of Aramis like demeanour; not in detail but they have the same kind of wood panel finish.
Although most reviewers like it, l'Homme divides opinion - between smells great and smells like cologne guy - so I think it should have a sign on the back saying Warning! Not Advised for the Under Fifties. That should deal with the negative reviews.
Good, but old fashioned.

3*

Modern FB
08th March, 2020

CerrutiSí by Cerruti

By itself, the smell of ambroxan isn't that bad. A complex of sweet powder and woody resin, it's (almost) half a perfume in itself, and it's easy to see how this synthetic ambergris could become the foundation of a certain style of perfumery.

But ambroxan's pleasant and multi faceted smell shouldn't be a basis for sloppy work - which is what this is - a rudimentary masculine that isn't so much skeletal as just a high powered skin scent. CerrutiSi is largely ambroxan - and probably Iso E Super - set with an unpleasant and cheap smelling fougére, and there's a lead note of ginger with a citrus flourish on top.

On paper it isn't that bad. It dries down to almost pure ambroxan, which is pleasant enough, so I was going to let it go with a neutral score, reading it as one of those pale, mediocre, minimalist masculines; rather boring if not done well. But nobody wears perfume on paper strips (do they?) and when given a full wearing a nasty sharpness comes through in the top half that can't be ignored.

It strikes me there's a mismatch at the heart of this, the old fashioned fougère doesn't sit well with a modern minimalist style, and that makes it wrong artistically - as well as technically poor. Ironically, it's the attempt to pretty it up that most lets it down; CerritiSi could have been better without the fougére heart, just ambroxan and ginger...

My advice would be forget about this, it's not much good, you'd do better looking for Dior Homme Sport 2008 instead.

2*

Part used vapo with no card
05th March, 2020 (last edited: 01st April, 2020)

Lord Molyneux by Molyneux

As Monsieur le Baron has sagely divined ... this 'Lord' is no aristocrat - he is a cheap and vulgar arriviste! Avoid the bounder at all costs.

*

Carded vile
02nd March, 2020 (last edited: 25th March, 2020)

Mitsouko Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

Despite all the soft pink loveliness that Guerlain poured into Mitsouko it's a difficult perfume to love. A fact clearly acknowledged by the advertising : a statuesque womans head in pen and ink, staring out of the page, eyeless.
And underneath, it bears the caption Are you her type?

And many people aren't. At first it can be difficult to know what to feel about this strange mixture of peaches & cream and dark mossy chypre.

Mitsouko is the exquisite perfection of Coty's prototype, his rather brusque invention of resins, patchouli and moss. Jacques Guerlain's masterstroke was to soften and balance this fauvist invention by adding a milky peach accord, giving Mitsouko a harmonic but dissonant contrast between the two parts : an almost brutally masculine base - decorated with a gorgeous feminine theme. Not a very complex perfume but a surely audacious one.

There is little else like it, especially these days, and this unfamiliarity only increases Mitsouko's outlandish feel to the perfume novice. I myself bought it, sold it, and only picked it up again much later, an old sample from a flea market finally correcting this glaring hole in my collection.

Like all the original chypres that have survived to this day Mitsouko's message hasn't been lost, but her timbre and nuances have changed; without oakmoss she now speaks in a different tone of voice. So it's pointless me trying to describe Mitsouko, you'll just have to go and try it for yourself, and see if she's really your type - or not.

*****
29th February, 2020

Wilde by Jardins D'Ecrivains

A Jardins d'Hermès style fig tree that gets slowly overrun by a dusty floral.

3*-

Carded vial
26th February, 2020