Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

Total Reviews: 315

Ô de Lancôme by Lancôme

Dark citrus with a touch of florals.
After a regular cologne, the moss in Ô makes it feel like sunglasses on a bright day.
25th May, 2015 (last edited: 05th August, 2015)

Krizia Uomo by Krizia

Austere herbal cologne with plasticy florals and a vetiver-leather base.
Good for hot weather.
23rd May, 2015

Armani Privé Oud Royal by Giorgio Armani

A good hard Oud and light rose that preserves some of its weirdness despite being softened up for the western market. Incense liquorice and amber decorate what is otherwise a linear progression.
At four hours longevity is not so good.
For €220 Oud Royal is competing with less synthetic niche offerings, and the only reason to choose it would be its wider availability.
23rd May, 2015
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L'Homme Idéal Cologne by Guerlain

Acerbic grapefruit and sugary orange debased by a white musk - vetiver accord lifted from Les Notes de Lanvin Vetyver Blanc.
19th May, 2015

Monsieur de Givenchy by Givenchy

If Pour Monsieur is an old time movie star with immaculate tailoring and slicked back hair, Monsieur de Givenchy is the ruritanian governor in tweeds.
(Vintage formula)
17th May, 2015 (last edited: 23rd May, 2015)

Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger

American Pong! Leaving aside the ridiculous americ-aroma nomenclature...

Tommy is a fantasy spice accord of
cardamom-pepper-clove, showered with lavender rain and backed up by an aspartame and battery acid combo.

A powdery sweet fruity effect comes in after a while to add a touch of subtlety to the hard and sharp feel, but besides that it's pretty linear.

Constructed in a faux transparent style, Tommy's in your face character still comes across as attention grabbing. With a loud shirt and cool shades however, it may have been just right for a brash young guy hanging out at the Mall.

Despite its evident drawbacks - one liner, harsh top, hard synthetic quality, Tommy smells good - albeit in a nineties style.

Pity the star material doesn't come from the US or it could have had a ludicrous name too - Cape Canaveral Cardamom.
16th May, 2015

Fleurs de Sel by Miller Harris

This convincing salt and salty composition of 2007 develops into a pepper and salt floral with a green lactonic character built around clary sage and the natural exaltolide found in angelica; very unusual, and if you strip out the base accord not a million miles from the current musk based minimalism of Lutens & Sheldrake.

Salt is also found - in a rather tentative form in Rock Samphire and Driftwood (2011) by Icon Partnership for the UK National Trust, and there is also the Jo Malone release Wood Sage & Seasalt (2014), but this Lyn Harris work is the most resolute and just about as far removed from the mainstream as you can get from a department store.

Fleurs de Sel puts me in mind of a piece of abstract jewellery; striking, provocative and best worn on black for maximum effect.
09th May, 2015

Moschino by Moschino

A hollow confusion of sweet gunge, painfully spiky overtones and clove which soon collapses into an anonymous milky clove whisper.

If someone were to mix Boss number one, Cuba by Czech & Speake and Yohji Homme and then apply it in a 5% solution of body milk they might end up smelling like this.

Why they would want to do that I have no idea
01st May, 2015

Monsieur Carven by Carven

Monsieur Carven was one of the first perfumes to stake a claim on the spicy oriental territory opened up by Opium the previous year. It has lots in common with the YSL blockbuster - they share no less than 14 accords! In fact they are so similar that Opium is more like M.Carven than Opium pour Home, but MC is generally quieter due to the fact that it isn't built around such a massive bulk of spices.

Monsieur Carven is not only a better reworking of Opium than OpH, but also a more convincing perfume in its own right. It could even be known as Monsieur Opium.

This is a heavy hitter in the fashion of the time, rich and complex. Dense with a loading of spices herbs and florals, and backed up by sweet amber, but not so dense that there is no room for the notes to breathe.

It has a very soapy aldehydic start over a smooth body and soon takes on a classic 70s style - warm and full with a brown colour value.

The heart is a very pleasant sweet spicy oriental.

Thanks to myrrh and coconut an aromatic and bergamot-resiny aspect of leather is elevated into the body. A developing coarse texture from eugenol-patchouli-moss in the base provides a suitably masculine yet discrete grounding to the affair, and without the phenomenal lasting power of Opium.

Although it is evidently a derivative remake of a hugely successful formula, MC still feels like the creation of an individual talent and not a soulless compromise driven by the goal of eliminating negative responses from panel tests.

A wonderful example of well crafted perfumery, even if the idea is not new. Multi-faceted; through each stage it manages to remain agreeable and solidly masculine despite modern perceptions of the oriental as a feminine genre, and it doesn't put a foot wrong until the slightly under par dry down when compared to Opium. Very good quality materials.

It may need a lively sense of humour to carry this one off, but if I were to be invited to a seventies disco revival night, this would be my perfume of choice to go with the chest medallion and flairs.

If you are a fan of the seventies style get this is you can find it. Highly recommended.
28th April, 2015 (last edited: 26th March, 2016)

Léonard pour Homme (original) by Léonard

Old fashioned leather fougère.

22nd April, 2015 (last edited: 08th December, 2018)

Parfum de Peau by Montana

A vanillic red rose with animalic and jasmin undertones which
is followed by an edgy upper accord of incense and cassis. Marigold and ginger give an unusual dry
side note that contrasts finely with a musky narcissus hum. This opening blossoms into a fully rounded accord in the classical French manner of voluptuous and slightly disreputable rich florals.
By the first half hour a peppery, powdery and oily-rich red rose-jasmin bouquet establishes itself centre stage.

The body proper is slightly disappointing because the delicacy of the floral heart is soon clouded by a dark whiff of leathery amber and patchouli, but when the incense arrives like the glamorous star guest at a reception, Parfum de Peau sparkles with an exquisite richness and maturity.

Next on the scene is an underlay of chewy amber which develops a condensed milk feel.
Its lactonic quality blends with and accentuates an existing skanky nuance to give a somewhat lascivious feel, and meanwhile a leather note prowls around.

As the body declines around the rose-jasmin and over the amber to the base its character remains vibrant thanks to the longevity of the incisive top accord. After the incense-blackcurrant fades, however, what remains into the drydown is a very nice and persistent floral musky patchouli.

In essence the profile is a rose with sweet powdery and incense sides and various nuances in tow. The floral bouquet is very subtle. It can appear now like rose, and then like jasmin, but the neroli remains close to invisible at all times in my sample, perhaps due to age.

A difficult perfume to wear because of its uncompromising sharp overtone and a classical, somewhat haughty demeanour which makes it most definitely not a casual proposition, but it does have moments of sheer beauty and a comfortable drydown which on the right person would be stunning.
Created by Jean Guichard.
19th April, 2015

Parfum Sacré by Caron

An intriguing blast of civet and a weird over-ripe fruit thing
followed by a procession of mainly sweet notes until
everything dissolves into vanilla milkshake.

Parfum Sucré
14th April, 2015

Balafre by Lancôme

After an indecisive opening of soapy aromatics, coumarinic sweet, and sour wood perked up by a dash of resin, Balafré settles on a vaguely rustic sort of fougere style with a natural-porous texture.

My sample is described as Aftershave on the box, and just in case there remains any doubt about who should wear it, underneath it says For Men. Being released in 1967 when the gender bending flower power movement was in full swing, Lancôme evidently wanted its male customers to feel no shame or embarrassment about wearing perfume/cologne/aftershave, even one that by todays standards seems a perfectly innocuous masculine in the barbershop tradition.

Coming from a time of political tension between various Radical movements and 'the Man' who represented the establishment, perfume seemingly got caught between a demand by the young for less rigid social structures - and more flowers, and the desire of the producers to avoid alienating conventional male customers with anything less than Manly fragrances.

The outcome was a compromise. Both Balafré and its exact contemporary Hai Karate with its violent misogynistic advertising, were neither testosterone fueled chest beaters nor perfumey floral affairs, but in the case of HK apparently a 'soft' barbershop style thing. Balafré - the name means Scarface in French, was despite its aggressive image also quite bland.

The usual repertoire of typically male notes are claimed to be present: spice, wood, resins, green herbs, oakmoss and leather, but the leather effect is barely there and only resin and moss make any definite impact on the soapy barbershop motif. In fact, rather than being in your face, its quite shy and a bit confused and instead seems to want to slope off to the woods and find its Inner Man, which it does after two or three hours...

Interesting only as a period piece.

09th April, 2015
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Gold Man by Amouage

Being an Arabian style perfume, Gold Man makes cultural references that I fail to get;
but at the same time, knowing it was created by French master perfumer Guy Robert does make me wonder if it's not more of a pastiche than Persian gulf.

Its not a mixed fragrance in the modern sense, and its also not descended from the pre-twentieth century European style which had no definitive gender.

It is, on the other hand, a rich piquant rose dusted with sweet powdery iris. This is set within a dissonant structure that creates tension between the rugged base and its effeminate decorative overlay, and these mixed messages effectively deny a simple gender reading of Gold Man; strongly masculine and feminine signifiers are present making it impossible to put this scent exclusively into one camp or the other: it exists in both.

Not an easy wear then. This one is very demanding, and it's difficult to know how to approach it. Rather than being a challenge to be relished - in the mould of 3rd Man, or perhaps Insensé, Gold Man could be just too florid to be wearable by many western men. Its also possibly too masculine to be worn easily by a woman.

It's an original and very well made piece of costume perfumery, but whether Gold Man represents welcome liberation from restrictive gender codes, playful irony, or a threat to one's masculinity, must - in the end - be decided by those who can dare to wear it.

29th March, 2015 (last edited: 27th January, 2017)

Joop! Homme by Joop!

More potent than ricin, cloyingly sweet and with the structure of a blob of jelly.

Handle with extreme caution.

NBC suit and respirator advised.

This warning applies to the current version
which has homme written below joop on the bottle.
29th March, 2015 (last edited: 01st April, 2015)

Green Water by Jacques Fath

A period piece in classic Italianate style.

Straight forward; a refreshing and spare combination of citrus and herbs
with some underlying complexity.
Very masculine in tone.

The citrus quickly fades away leaving an unbalanced residue
of ginger, hydroxy and moss.

This is a review of the '93 formulation in the square column bottle,
where lime pops up like a signpost
on Green Water's rapid journey to nowhere.

Not worth the kind of prices being demanded on the web.

26th March, 2015 (last edited: 07th July, 2015)

White Rose by Floris

My mother was once given a can of industrial air freshener that smelled better than this.
This is absolutely appalling, like No.5 done on the budget of glass cleaner.
Avoid at all costs!
24th March, 2015

L'Orpheline by Serge Lutens

The analyst mentions this
sense of loss
she has the dream
of a girl
coco lost in a chinese grocery store
the man called
timothé shearing angelica
23rd March, 2015 (last edited: 11th April, 2015)

La Religieuse by Serge Lutens

Sweet Sister Jasmin prays alone in the chapel. Wishing she hadn't brought that banana, she becomes aware of the white lilies on the altar and the dry cedar smell of wooden benches.
Black incense smoke floats in the milky light.

A tension between religious purity and worldly passion runs through her soul;
will the nun be able to resist temptation?

Quite soon, jasmin will have merged with the ambience of Madonna Lily, Incense, and
a thick sweet civet undertone.
19th March, 2015

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès

Pastel sketch of sweet powdery kumquat (read grapefruit) over a hint of amber and musk.

This kind of lightweight material demonstrates the need for an evaluator who can provide
direction and focus to the creative process, just as many great writers require a powerful editor
to keep them on their mettle.

Ellena is squandering his talent on such forgetable work.
17th March, 2015

Trésor (new) by Lancôme

Rosy-fruity leatherette adorned with violets, muguet and fizz.

14th March, 2015 (last edited: 12th March, 2017)

La Nuit Trésor by Lancôme

Bad tempered purple fruity chypre, explicitly reminiscent of Black Cassis by Berkeley Square
except this one comes with a garnish of nutty praline and incense : one star out of five.
14th March, 2015

Héliotrope Blanc by Piver

From the open window potted Heliotropes cast shadows on the old stone floor;
a warm breeze stirs the scent of bitter almonds.

A young Victorian woman sets buttery sweet vanilla biscuits to cool on the wooden table, the curves of her body move inside her white floral summer dress.

The baby's perambulator sits in the yard as somewhere outside the cat scratches in the dirt.

She sits and waits and reads The Imp of the Perverse by Edgar Allen Poe.
12th March, 2015

La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche - Ma Robe Pétales by Guerlain

Take one vat of puréed pistachio, blend with tonka and the bitter fizzy almond note of benzaldehyde, add the resiny peel of mandarin, squirt on some rose & raspberry jam and then sprinkle with plastic freesia petals. Do not mix thoroughly... Voilà! Tarte à la Petite Robe Noix. Serve on a bed of fermented patchouli leaves with a white musk relish.

As a chypre Ma Robe Pétales should be mature in character, but despite feeling a bit pinched it's still very sweet and comes across as slightly apologetic, maybe for having been incarnated as the sixth LPRN flanker. It is somewhat generic, even if avoiding the worst excesses of pink fruitiness. Despite the novel use of nuts to lighten the sanguine rosy accord it stays firmly outside the restaurant.

A well constructed formula : the way the patchouli discretely rises up early to support the rose, and the intelligent linking of almond head and sweet musk base to package the whole profile is nicely done, but I can't help feeling that not enough money was allocated to the materials budget. It just smells too cheap at times. Bravo Guerlain and Boo to LVMH.

At least it's better than 2012.
08th March, 2015 (last edited: 09th March, 2015)

1881 pour Homme Edition Blanche by Cerruti

A sharp smelling molecule that mimics grapefruit / blackcurrant bud has been chosen to head up Edition Blanche. Packaged with terpenes and aldehydes this all adds up to one spiky top accord.
A slight dose of gummy spearmint and some resiny citrus oils broaden the intro, classic masculine aromatics - lavender and rosemary remain from the old formula, and a coumarin milky-fig note fills in the structure.

The 'blackcurrant' molecule, aromatics and 'moss' blend into a sort of cardamom accord that replaces the juniper / cypress note of the original. This lasts all the way down, giving the profile a keen and synthetic quality that feels cheap.

As it ages, EB develops a fougère touch under the freshness, but its character remains lighter and harder than 1881, having lost the original's powdery sweetness.

A predictable makeover of an old timer, done in a style designed to appeal to youths who wear fragrances sold in black spray cans.
Remarkable for the imaginative use of some industrial strength odourants, but it has all the charm of sticking pins up your nose.
07th March, 2015

Armani Privé Encens Satin by Giorgio Armani

"Customer research analysis profiling says we need to update the Privé incense.
What's the new style these days?
Oud and incense? Quelle horreur!
- that'd cost a fortune!
...or you could try fruity...
OK, do it fruity - and we need it by Tuesday"

incense , woods , spices , amber

Opening up as a pink-fruity and incense combo, you immediately notice how Encens Satin is sweet.
A sweet fruity floral with a thin sharp incense note floating somewhere overhead.

The prominent accord feels like sweet cherry bomb and lychee; some kind of fruchouli, but thankfully with a light touch. It's supported by a brief cameo of natural cedarwood.

Spice notes? Well I get cinnamon and I think black pepper which could be used to cut the incense, and later on a clove like note.

The emerging base of woody amber goes some way to uniting the fruit and incense but doesn't quite close the gap, although its a quite nice amber with a floral nuance. By one hour the vanillic-sweet amber manages to take control of the fruchouli, and starts to get a grip on the incense as well.

Eventually it settles into an incense - amber duo with a fruity side, later exposing a woody amber drydown.

The juice performs better on skin than paper where it doesn't hold together so well.

Encens Satin feels like a willful young girl who has truanted from a ballet class in her pink tutu and been persuaded to let the priest take her back to her mother : an odd mixture of fruity innocence and aloof incense united in a sweet amber embrace.

A strange idea, but not groundbreaking or even successful, and a rather boring mainstream perfume masquerading as luxe.
It does have some appeal but I wouldn't call it good.
05th March, 2015 (last edited: 07th July, 2015)

FlowerbyKenzo by Kenzo

Why review Flower when it was released 15 years ago? It's been a bestseller for ages, has been the subject of many flankers and is a successful crossover in Japan. Everybody knows what Flower smells like...

Kenzo asked for a perfume that smells like poppy - a scentless flower. Pretentious folly or inspiration? It gives the perfumer rare creative licence - and in response to this zen brief Alberto Morillas came up with a white floral bouquet.

A note pyramid for Flower is:
Lychee supported by ginger and mandarin, violet
Rose, with camelia and mimosa,
Frankincense, white musks, patchouli and amber.

Another way to describe Flower is; sweet, abstract flowers with hard black undertones on a basket of laundry musks.

Synthetic odourants are carefully selected to create approximations of rose, violet, hawthorn and Cassie; quoted from another pyramid. Rather than creating each flower and then merging them, molecules common to more than one flower bridge the gaps. This is economic use of materials as only the most essential components of each flower are represented. Close smelling reveals the limitations of this approach though and it's only partly successful. The texture wears a bit coarsely and the flowers do not smell realistic.

With this reliance on synthetics, Flower lacks finesse and roundness. The only natural materials being opopanax, incense and patchouli, and maybe a minute amount of Rosa centifolia, the high percentage of synthetics gives the perfume an artificial quality. This is not necessarily a bad thing; the plasticy feel of Flower makes it distinct from a more traditional formula.

Flower bears the hallmarks of its time (2000) with a watery-fruit note in the head, but in this case it's lychee rather than melon. Its linear core is built from long lasting materials.

As the intense sweetness of the opening declines, dry lemony accents of incense emerge. These give contrast and prevent Flower from becoming a sweet bomb.

Certain key notes have allowed Flower to become a successful crossover in Japan. The lychee in the opening flourish, supported by ginger - common in south east Asian cuisine, and mandarin, create a hook for the oriental consumer. Rose and jasmin have universal appeal and, and incense also has cultural resonance for the Japanese.

Anaïs Anaïs (1978) and Flower are very similar white floral bouquets, but where Anaïs' soapy bathroom accord of lily and hyacinth feels innocent, Flower is harder and less permissive. Its undertone of incense and patchouli announces in a low but firm voice that the pastel, soft focus reveries of the seventies are over. Kenzo's twenty first century interpretation is a plasticy, confident abstract composition. The white floral has moved from being the virginal symbol of early adolescence to a strategy marketed at young women in the postmodern world.

Flowers' continued production has been due to the cheapness of its formula, and is now thanks to its potential to penetrate the enormous and untapped market in China.

The succession of Flower flankers demonstrates the solidity of its formula, which continues to serve as a foundation for new ornamentation.

Flower (like Anaïs Anaïs) has the lasting appeal of a distinctive perfume that transcends the whims of fashion.
It has endured to become a classic.
28th February, 2015 (last edited: 23rd September, 2015)

Terre d'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche by Hermès

Bitter and fraîche : a citric sharpness that exquisitely pricks the nose, underpinned by sweet suggestions of powdery wood, and laid against a resiny backdrop of bergamot and mandarin peels.

The opening is composed of citrus in variety, each blending with the others to unfold a cornucopia of harmonics. Sweet mandarin underscores spiky grapefruit, resiny bergamot plays off against dry bitter orange and floral neroli; acid, sweet and powdery. Impressions of verbena, lemon and orange, coumarin, rose, a skin like aroma that I assume is the work of the mysterious 'water notes' given in the pyramid, all these make an appearance.

With the sensibility of a top flight cologne, Eau très Fraîche compels the nose: it's utterly absorbing.
Make the most of the overture though, because what follows cannot maintain this level of fascination.

The top notes soon lose their edge as resiny tones develop in their wake. These come lightly dusted with the crystalline sugar effect that accompanies the drydown of orange oil.

A green floral geranium introduces a soft and light string section. As an overtone of mint takes up the piquant thread of citrus it promotes roundness and complexity. Hints of rose lend a classic air.

As the internal harmonics and contrasts of the citrus begin to decline, they are carried further by a ground swell of cardamom, the fanfare dropping away into accents of bassoon and oboe. This allows new contrasts to emerge as they would between brass and woodwind; the momentum of development carries one forward from excitement to a more subtle, deeper sense of intrigue.

The cardamom note was previously used in Jean Claude Ellena's earlier composition Declaration, as others have noted. In fact it seems that a whole cardamom accord has been lifted from Declaration and dropped straight in as a substitute for the flint accord of Terre EdT.

Ellena may well have had Cartier on his mind when composing Eau très Fraîche because the scintillating top accord bears some semblance to the excellent wind chimes effect of Eau de Cartier. Indeed EtF
could easily be read as a nod to the classy sparkling head accord of the reorchestrated flanker Declaration l'Eau.

Another reference is to the Acqua Colonia series recently released by 4711. The ones that come to mind being Mandarin & Cardamom and Vetyver & Bergamot.

It will come as no surprise to the followers of Jean Claude Ellena's work that longevity is poor. He is on record as stating that he prioritises quality over quantity of profile.

The later stages of the piece cannot help but be an anti-climax after such a masterful opening movement. The far development of cardamom leans too heavily on hydroxycitronellol to maintain a fully satisfying course. The hydroxy becomes intrusive for a while, but it fades as the cardamom accord comes to rest, dominating the base of occasionally legible cedarwood and a featherweight dose of patchouli and other woods.

The obvious response to these small issues is to treat the thing as a cologne and reapply.

An extremely accomplished essay on the modern cologne, and much much more than a mere flanker.
If, like me you prefer Declaration l'Eau to the original, you should try this if you like Terre.
24th February, 2015 (last edited: 04th March, 2015)

L.12.12 Blanc / White by Lacoste

I used to have this and gave it to a charity shop.
It's horrible, unwearable, harsh synthetic trash. Utterly foul.
Somebody gave me a sample of it yesterday. Smelling it again reminds me
just how much I dislike this kind of chemical soup. The sample has gone in the trash.
23rd February, 2015

Blacks Club Leather by Shay & Blue

As soon as Blacks Club Leather bursts from the sprayer the leather note lashes the nostrils with incredible radiance, and is then engulfed by a tidal wave of fruit purée.

This opening is a phenomenon! If you want to play spot the note this is one for you.
Some of the things you might find surging around in the maelstrom are :
plastic leather, linalool, orange cake, grapefruit and bergamot, green, muguet, yeasty pub cellar, pear drops, banana skin, licorice, Jasmin and iso butyl quinoline derived bitterness.
This is not so much an accord as a headlong rush of fruity esters over leatherette.

Over the first hour, the tide of fruit recedes to reveal what becomes a fine leather.
Buttressed by spicy iso eugenol the leather accord takes on a pleasantly hard feel, becoming an accurate portrayal of old leather armchairs.

The sweet fruity head rush and the bitter leather heart make up the dynamic tension at the centre of this figurative portrait of a Gentleman's Club in London.

The leather is a fine and well executed, hard spare accord, more weighted to the top by iso butyl quinoline (think Bandit) than to the funky-fatty depth of castoreum (the horse in Habit Rouge.)
The leather theme has a refined antique quality suggestive of traditional luxury, and also shares in the austerity of military discipline.

As soon as the spartan leather has established itself, a floral accord of light Jasmin and iris delicately softens the tone, with alpha ionone gently rising up the profile.

The insistent fruity boozy head chord rounds out the leather with an impression of muscatel or even alcopops, but it isn't accurate enough to represent the cognac that the marketing literature claims it to be.
It has evidently been made incredibly strong to give it the necessary staying power to reach into the drydown. A large dose of Exaltolide may be involved here, which would explain the huge fruity rush at the beginning.

In the second stage, after the fruity sweetness has subsided, the profile resolves itself into multiple facets. This is where things get interesting.
Smoke, white wood, muscatel, spilt drinks, polished mahogany, spicy undertones, floral and aromatic nuances - as if they were from various aftershaves and gentlemen's colognes, all weave themselves around the leather core.

An enjoyable effort, but there are technical and artistic problems that can't be overlooked.
The main one being the massive 'cognac' accord, which smells like nothing of the sort.

Longevity is average with an unremarkable drydown, but the sillage largely burns itself out in the explosion of radiance at the start.

It's an interesting idea - portraying a Soho club, and Shay and Blue have given the traditional subject matter of leather a new style with their attractive contemporary treatment.

Good in places but ultimately flawed, so it's a borderline positive rating.

14th February, 2015