Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

Total Reviews: 307
05th February, 2019

Devin by Aramis

There's no denying that Devin and Yatagan are similar, but that doesn't mean that just because Devin came out two years later it has to be a copy of Yatagan. They approach roughly the same destination but each one gets there by different means. Where Yatagan is more animalic and has chamomile and leather, Devin takes a more vegetalised route with pollen and celeriac.

Another reason why Devin isn't necessarily a copy is because they both, in different ways seem to derive from Bernard Chant's own tour de force Aromatics Elixir - just minus the rose and the coriander.

Devin is lighter and smoother than Yatagan, and this allows it to better express the frankly weird theme that makes these two so similar to each other, and so different from anything else I have smelled.

It's the heightened clarity of the way Devin articulates this characteristic theme that makes it the better work overall, and this may be the reason why it got a FiFi and Yatagan didn't. Also,the award may have been partly retrospective because when Aromatics was first released the FiFi's didn't exist.

01st February, 2019 (last edited: 05th February, 2019)
28th January, 2019
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Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

The problem I have with AS is the shiny green and herbal note. It has a resiny component that smells like an evergreen hedge, vaguely toxic.

And if the green resiny note weren't there AS would just smell like unsweet rubbery amber, vaguely boring in a gabardine fabric and ice cream sort of way.

But it is there, and the temperate associations I have with the evergreen note seem to clash with the parched oriental - no matter which way I look at it.

AS is a decent piece of work but I've never liked it - and now I know why, I don't know where I am supposed to be with it.

21st January, 2019

Partage by Fabergé

Fuzzy No.5 clone.

19th January, 2019

Missoni (original) / Missoni Donna by Missoni

Starts off like a timid Aromatics Elixir clone, which blossoms into a milky rose and then a lemon-fresh magnolia on a honeyed oriental. Then there comes a slight reprise of AE and finally some leather. Good work technically, but it feels a bit overwrought by todays standards.

16th January, 2019

Havana pour Elle by Aramis

Green toffee-apple and tobacco floriental.

13th January, 2019

Coriolan by Guerlain

How did it go so wrong? Citrus, wood, coriander... these things should be fine together, but they're not. The fault lies with dreadful materials; unpleasant chemical 'citrus' over a desiccated woody note thats only partly disguised by synthetic aromatics. Smells like sour cleaning fluid. I have to stop this now before I lose my breakfast.

09th January, 2019

L'Art et la Matière : Cuir Beluga by Guerlain

If you're wondering why Guerlain named their leather after a type of sturgeon - don't worry, Cuir Beluga doesn't smell like caviar, the word simply means white in Russian. And if that brings to mind Cuir de Russie you're thinking along the right lines; not that this is anything like the Chanel classic. Being little more than a white 'suede' floral on a base of fudge Cuir Beluga is actually more like a bad iris gourmand. If its Russian leather you want get the Chanel.

05th January, 2019

Habanita by Molinard

I would like to think that Molinard present a bottle of Habanita to every production of Carmen so the mezzo-soprano's dressing room can whiff of this animalic floriental with a touch of tobacco. It would be just the thing to gear up the heroine for her passion play of love and death.

04th January, 2019 (last edited: 09th January, 2019)

Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

Calèche hails from a time when a word like grandeur could be used to describe a perfume and it would not be written off as empty rhetoric.

Guy Robert's original formulation was a grand opulent chypre, the like of which has long since disappeared from mainstream perfumery.
Two reasons for that are : 1) this sort of quality is not cheap to make, and 2) a perfume of this stature cannot easily be worn by someone whose age is less than their hip size.

Smart, beautiful and classy, Calèche had everything going for it - except that most precious quality these days, youth.

23rd December, 2018

A Kiss By The Fireside by 4160 Tuesdays

A Kiss by the Fireside has what Howard Jacobson calls the grandeur of adversity overcome. He writes about meeting a pelican, walking towards him on a bridge in St James's Park, on Boxing Day. It's the weirdness of the scene that gets him, and like an agnostic speaker on Thought for the Day he can't resist drawing it up into some kind of parable. To be happy in this life, he says, don't try to release your Inner Self, be Who you are Not; don't fly when flying is expected of you - walk, like the pelican. Don't be beautiful, be strange.

But think of it from the pelican's point of view for a moment, who is beautiful, and who is strange?

If Jacobson tried 4160's Kiss... of crackling fire, balsams and disinfectant, he might see that beauty and strangeness are not mutually exclusive; it's like approaching a pelican in the park, all a matter of perspective.

19th December, 2018

Shalimar Cologne by Guerlain

Sickly little thing that wants to be Shalimar when it grows up.

19th December, 2018
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Tabac Original by Mäurer & Wirtz

Dodgy mix of Old Spice and citrus cologne that doesn't work.
EdC formula
13th December, 2018 (last edited: 18th December, 2018)

Roma Uomo by Laura Biagiotti

With perfume - as in life, if you are attractive then being clever is usually seen as a bonus.

This problem is especially acute for the oriental, which is expected to be sweet on the nose but shouldn't engage the brain in too much conversation. Think of Shalimar and Mitsouko, how one pleases the nose while the other seeks to please the neurones.

Those who are looking for a dumb reach - or a dumb anything else for that matter - may stumble with Annick Menardo's sweet and sour amber which contrives to be both nose candy and raconteur at the same time. It does need to speak up though.

11th December, 2018 (last edited: 21st December, 2018)

Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

Brilliant masculine violet. Like a fougère version of Jolie Madame but drier than a private eye's raincoat.

07th December, 2018

Bleu de Chanel Parfum by Chanel

Fruit purée, fougère, spiky woods.
02nd December, 2018

Jules by Christian Dior

Fine fragrance equivalent of the smell they add to new cars.

27th November, 2018

Cuir by Lancôme

Sweet balsamic brown construction that's barely there; the Emperor's new Leather Clothes.

25th November, 2018 (last edited: 28th November, 2018)

Dior Homme Cologne (2013) by Christian Dior

Not Dior Homme at all but a citrus cologne, and not a great one at that.

25th November, 2018

Rêve d'Or by Piver

On their website Piver describe this citrus and heliotrope oriental as 'a cocktail of rare essences'. In reality it's more like honey mead and a squeeze of lemon in a wooden cup.

Considering this modern EdC is no doubt a poor rendition of the original its possible that the 1889 version wasn't too bad. Rêve d'or should get some credit as an early sketch of the citrus oriental but it would take a generation of effort before this style reached its apotheosis in Shalimar.

10th November, 2018 (last edited: 11th November, 2018)

Écusson by Long Lost Perfume

Imagine if you took the heart of No.5 and transplanted it into the body of Shalimar, the result would be something like Écusson.

Once the pink aldehydic floral and the sweet powdery background have merged - and the thing finally gets going - this strange hybrid is actually very good. The problem is it takes a couple of hours for the opening gambit of bergamot, citrus and florals to settle down and until it does the first part is quite off colour.

It would be nice to see this done in a less wobbly composition because it's an unusual idea that does have some merit. In the hands of a skilled perfumer Écusson could have been convincing, but as it stands it's more of a curiosity than anything.


Jean d'Albret version, Eau de Toilette
05th November, 2018

Vetiver Hombre by Adolfo Dominguez

When vetiver already smells fabulous in a smokey-earthy, aromatic, rooty-anisic and green kind of way, why bother loading it up with all that sweet soapy and powdery-woody stuff?

02nd November, 2018 (last edited: 05th November, 2018)

Paris by Yves Saint Laurent

Paris is a reworking of an old early-modern trope of perfumery - the rose-violet, but in conception and form it's very much a perfume of the late twentieth century.

At the core of Paris is a version of Sophia Grojsman's Hug Me rose that performs some kind of molecular witchery with ionones, and in so doing it links up in several directions.

The soft pink and milky rose is set on a ground of mimosa-like pollen-covered lilies and a musky formica table top note which makes it close to Oscar for Men (2000) but the rest of the profile has a hard and dry quality which comes from the other, more conventional use of ionones, violet-iris. It gives Paris an edge, an unfeminine feel that isn't contradicted by the neutral muskiness of the base.

This epicene floral of soft pink rose and dry hard violets was something quite new. Paris gave a previously unheard of toughness to a traditionally feminine form, and it did this at a time when a generation of women musicians like Siouxie of The Banshees, Nina Hagen and Kim Wilde were creating names for themselves in the macho post-punk world of New Wave. Their style was a most unladylike image of black leather jacket and dyed spiky hair; traditional notions of femininity were being challenged, both in fashion and in perfume.

Paris wasn't just a hard nosed rerun of a traditional style floral but a modern new blend of feminine and masculine that had something apposite to say about the changing gender politics of its time. It was, possibly, the first feminist floral.

It's also very powerful and can get overwhelming if you overdo it.

24th October, 2018 (last edited: 13th December, 2018)

Hugo by Hugo Boss

Cool Water clone with added sugar.

24th October, 2018

Gucci pour Homme by Gucci

With a slash of fruity lip gloss across its incense and papyrus, Gucci pour Homme feels like some trashy ikon by Andy Warhol - but this time done with infinite care.

A bizarre alignment of the sacred and the trite which, as it descends, eventually comes to land on a pale sweet powdery-woody base done in the style of Dior Homme (which actually came later). This makes for a disappointing conclusion to what is otherwise a bold work that hoiks incense out of the temple and into the 21st century.

Michel Almairac visited this theme again with Bentley for Men Absolute, which will have to serve as replacement for all those who can't get their hands on this scandalously deleted classic.

20th October, 2018 (last edited: 25th October, 2018)

Eau de Lit by Guerlain

Guerlain's contribution to cocooning - shutting out the world and snuggling up at home is a pong they call Eau de Lit, Water for the Bed.

Fair enough, some people may want to perfume their sheets - as well as themselves, but when it comes to dousing the boudoir with a Turkish Delight gourmand that's barely better than air freshener and costs 85€ a bottle, a more fitting name for the stuff might be Eau Délit, Crime Water.

Didn't anyone at LVMH see that one coming?

14th October, 2018

Adieu Sagesse (original) by Jean Patou

Adieu Sagesse is the black one in Patou's hair colour trio. It wraps a dark mix of blackcurrant, muguet and vetiver around the creamy aldehydic core the series is based on.

This basic core is most evident in the perfume for blondes, Amour Amour. It's also the most straightforward of the three, a nice polite soft pink floral with a touch of costus to give it an idea of hair. The other two perfumes in the series are developments of this with added extras bolted on.

Que sais-je? wraps it in a huge brown pelt that makes the brunette the most hair like.

This one, the black version, doesn't have either the simple prettiness of Amour Amour or the animalic power of Que sais-je? Its dark earthy-winey add-ons work at cross purposes to the pale creamy core and Adieu Sagesse doesn't quite pull off the air of mystery you would expect from a perfume for the raven haired.

09th October, 2018 (last edited: 21st December, 2018)

Que Sais-Je? (original) by Jean Patou

Peaches and cream aldehydic floral with a strawberry note and a lot of costus - which gives it a niff like unwashed hair. Que sais-je? is the brunette in a trio of hair colour perfumes released by Patou in 1925.

Alongside the smell of hair there's an even dirtier brown urge at work here, a bit like civet, woody teak and maybe some clary sage, which layers over the soft pink floral of Amour Amour - the one for blondes, and ramps it up into a wild animalic / floral combo. What's so brilliant about this is the way it operates both as a sweet pink floral and a dirty animalic without any seeming contradiction, or the kind of compromise that the third one in the trio Adieu Sagesse resulted in.

This may start out as a head of brown hair but by the end of the evening it's more like the skin of brown beast.

09th October, 2018

What Would Love Do? by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

What would love do? Well, for half an hour it would entice you in with a good apple crumble and orange ginger syrup, and then for the next month or so it wouldn't stop banging on about patchouli and benjoin.

08th October, 2018