Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

Total Reviews: 315

Antaeus by Chanel

Fruity - aromatic woody; with a sweet and powdery cushion to soften up the texture. And less obviously there's a myrtle bouquet in the heart and fatty - animalic castoreum in the base to round out the fullness.

To see what a great fume this is, try comparing it to imitators like French Line or Vendetta pour Homme. They get part of the way there but the result is skimpy in comparison.

I'm not sure this 2015 version is the same as it originally was - there being a chemical nuance to the opening phase - but besides that Antaeus has got to be one of the best masculines ever, a real masterpiece by Jacques Polge.

Antaeus does seem loud but I think it's the sprayer, it gives one of the most gargantuan blasts in the business.

08th April, 2019

Ealing Green by 4160 Tuesdays

This feels like the Green at Ealing has sprouted a Pictorial Meadow, one of those artificial prairies of flowers that pop up here and there on roundabouts and grass verges.

Bright and cheerful, spontaneous and crude, it isn't a serious perfume - just a bit of fun. Spray it on the kids before you go to the park.

01st April, 2019 (last edited: 11th April, 2019)

Caractère by Daniel Hechter

Crass fougère with brittle citrus and strident herbs. To paraphrase Coco Chanel, its got a lot of character and all of it bad.

28th March, 2019
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Marilyn Blue by Andy Warhol

For all those who've never smelled Flower.

24th March, 2019 (last edited: 26th March, 2019)

Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent

Fousty herbal-aromatic fougère with an oriental ground; this may be called Jazz but it's no way avant-garde, more like some boring old Trad band in a mouldy cellar.


Black and white stripe mini
14th March, 2019 (last edited: 15th March, 2019)

Yvresse / Champagne by Yves Saint Laurent

Champagne starts off with a fizzy texture but it doesn't smell much like the wine; it's a creamy-soft, rosy fruity-floral that's more like having a glass of bubbly with a jumbo helping of Peach Melba and lychees.


Barrel shaped vintage mini
10th March, 2019

Versace Woman by Versace

Like a group of infants, high on e-numbers, running around screaming while the playground monitors stare into their phones oblivious.

03rd March, 2019

Aromatics Elixir Perfumer's Reserve by Clinique

Perfumer's Reserve was a short run flanker released on the 40th anniversary of that great classic - Aromatics Elixir. By giving it a top to toe makeover the structure has been brought into line with modern trends while still keeping the spirit of the original.

The most fundamental change is a new foundation of myrrh in the base. This only goes part of the way to replacing the coarse grungy feel of the patchouli - which is such an important part of the original - and as a result the structure is smoother, lighter and more legible. As well as a reduction in the patchouli, chamomile - which has a similar coarse but drier feel has also been scaled back. Rose, which is complemented so well by patchouli is here partly replaced by white flowers, backed up by a dry powdery accord. The same process has also been applied to the higher end of the profile. Although coriander remains in a lead role, the addition of a strange plasticky note and the presence of myrrh - which are both evident at the start - means Perfumer's Reserve is paler toned and clearer and it has less of the original's distinctive weirdness. Both versions have a similar aromatic top note running through them but P'sR has largely dropped the soapy overtone found in AE.

The general effect of these changes is to overhaul the patchouli - chamomile - coriander - rose structure and make it more legible. Throwing out a lot of the excess baggage has stripped the profile down and it feels more modern as a result. But like the process of restoring an old painting, stripping away the crud risks stripping out the character.

If P'sR feels a little anodyne when compared directly with the 1971 original (despite the myrrh and the interestingly odd plasticky note) it still manages to preserve something of the old mystique. In his delicate but retrospectively valid task of updating an old favourite - and thus giving it a new (if sadly limited) lease of life, perfumer Laurent Le Guernec has largely done a good job.

The other notable thing about P'sR is it was only available as a extrait, with all the soft force that brings. It was a nice move to bring back AE in a new shape and rarely seen concentration; it's appropriate that a homage to a great classic should appear in classic form.

Perfumer's Reserve is good stuff, especially in the first couple of hours. Fans of Aromatics Elixir - at least those open to a new rendition of the old chestnut would probably love this, if they could only get their noses on it...

18th February, 2019
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

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
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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

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

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