Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

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Total Reviews: 315

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme Extrême / Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

Call me philistine but I don't get this.
It smells predominantly of cocoa and I don't understand why I should want to smell of a sweet powdery foodstuff.

In the development of the human palate, taste starts with easy - the sweet tooth of a child, and graduates to an adult's appreciation of the challenging bitter and sour notes - remember the first time you drank beer or coffee and how wretched it was?

This feels like a regression back to perfume infancy.

A pleasant, milk chocolate confection with nothing grown up to say, its the guy equivalent of the pink fruity floral.

Classy bottle though.

**
29th September, 2015

Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels

Fruity aromatic with pepper, carnation and a cold breeze running through it. It develops a sweet undertone with age.

A well made conservative fougère that evokes the ambience of Board Meetings, in 1979.

***
22nd September, 2015 (last edited: 23rd June, 2016)

Horizon by Guy Laroche

Its easy to pick out the head notes of mandarin and salt, but after that things get a bit more tricky. Grapefruit - yes, but rose & jasmin, thyme & black pepper? All three pyramids I've copied out into my notes suggest different things in the heart phase, and while all of them contain some truths none of them can be relied on.

When wearing this it comes across to me as a salt fruity-aquatic, with pepper grapefruit and herbal overtones. It's spiny on the outside and soft in the centre where acrid and fluid textures meet.

The note pyramids come together again in the base to agree on moss patchouli and sandal. It takes only a short hour or two to go from mandarin to moss and leaves behind itself a coarse smelling mossy salt. (This is real oakmoss here in all its starkness.)
I'm not sure that chypre's a good base for an aquatic perfume, they aren't suited together despite the salty link.

What is certain is that it was released five years later than Cool Water. Horizon's form of aquatic genre, species - salt follows in a style that had run its course and, smelling a bit old and dated would within a year be blown away by CK One.

**
17th September, 2015
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Sauvage by Christian Dior

Powdered orange juice concentrate, neutral plasticy filler, an intense metallic tang, fugitive red peppery note, sweetness, powder, a woody amber undertone and a black plastic 'bergamot' resin that smells more like it came from a hydrocarbon cracking plant than Calabria.

Sauvage follows in the vein of Boss In Motion and 1 Million with a distinctly uninspired coarse and lumpen orange profile. The metal note becomes so overblown that it is really unpleasant, and there isn't a heart accord to provide any relief, it goes in a straight line from metallic orange to woody amber and sticks around longer than an African dictator.

While I was testing it, a friend asked me to never wear it in her presence again. Appropriately, as well as wild and savage, the French word sauvage also means unsociable.

I can understand the lack of creativity and artistic judgement, just the sight of the box is enough to set the alarm bells ringing, but what is inexplicable is why LVMH chose to debase the reputation of a great classic by plagiarising its name for the sake of this derivative dross.

*
27th August, 2015 (last edited: 04th September, 2015)

Chrome by Azzaro

You join us at the end of a board room presentation at Bizaco headquarters...

'... so, everything that could be read as provocative, or relating to the human body, in any way, has been ruthlessly cut from the formula. What remains has been multiple focus grouped and proved 100% safe, sanitised and acceptable to anyone. This is the ultimate, new fresh puritan fragrance!'

'OK, I have a question. You said that hedione is an extract of jasmin flower. Flowers are the sex organs of plants, aren't they.'
'Well, plants reproduce by their flowers, but they don't...'
'Right, flowers are out!
Musk, isn't that how beavers show when they're in heat?'
'Oh, no - these are synthetic musks, produced in sterile factories by scientists in white coats...'
'The grapefruit and denatured citrus is OK, and its... bland and safe like you say, but...' the chairman takes a sniff from his smelling strip, 'that sweet woody sort of powdery smell, what is it?'
'Oh, our perfumer based that on baby powder, it's very popular.'
'Baby powder' he ponders, connecting nose to brain 'hmm... baby puke... doesn't it smell like baby vomit to you?'
'No not at all!' the marketing man blurts out. He smiles weakly. 'And there's also sweet Tonka bean, it's fermented and then the coumarin is extracted - but there's no alcohol!´

'It smells like that Calvin Klein number that came out three years ago' rumbles the boss.
A heavy silence...

'Oh... But we have the smell of pure metal, brushed steel... stainless steel...´
'Ah. I thought you said chrome, but that's ok, whatever...´

'...and finally a range of pure synthetic odourants are used to give er, body to the rest of the scent. This will be the cleanest, blandest, purest mens eau de toilette on the market today, nobody could be offended by it and,' unleashing the deal clincher 'its dirt cheap to make.'
'Yeah' replies the big man thoughtfully, 'eau de toilet... maybe we could change that to eau de cologne...'

Later in the car.
'You know, when I was a kid, you could get sugary hot water from the drinks machine at school. This crap reminds me of that somehow...'

**
26th August, 2015 (last edited: 15th September, 2015)

Lime, Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone

Acid citrus with a herbal tonic note, set on a dark and bitter, juicy fruity syrup. Lime, Basil & Mandarin must surely be the originator (and almost sole example) of this kind of sulphurous fruity syrup cologne.

It's difficult to say where one of these materials ends and the next one begins; the blending is so good it creates a sort of virtual sum that's more than the parts - even if there are no doubt other pieces to this particular jigsaw than aren't credited in the title.

It seems to have taken a good six years before anyone in the perfume industry cottoned on to this new and original tune that Jo Malone was weaving in the air. It was eventually picked up and reorchestrated by Calice Becker for her brilliant Joop! composition What About Adam. She reduced the weight of LB&M and gave it rainbow wings, raising the pitch by a couple of octaves and launching it briefly airborne. Shortly after that Guerlain caught on to the buzz and released Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, but they botched their version of the evanescent cassis and grapefruit accord with a cheap, chemical smelling off note.

What's surprising about all this is that it took so long for the sulphurous fruity style to gain any traction; maybe in the aquatic Nineties it felt too diabolical for the big boys to want to get involved, or possibly their reticence was due to the fact that Jo Malone made such a great job of it in the first place.

Whatever the reason, Lime Basil & Mandarin is an original great work, a modern classic. It may have partly been responsible for the emergence of the Petite Robe Noire style of acid fruity floral, but it would be grossly unfair to blame Jo Malone for that...

*****
08th August, 2015 (last edited: 15th September, 2018)

Vétyver by Roger & Gallet

They are all ready to go now and whoosh they're away with a spurt of hard dry bergamot with a woody undertone, and sour lemon quickly followed by brown spice. Brown spice soon overtakes lemon and a dry woody note. Harsh synthetics and sharp note take up the pace in a dash for freshness at the first fence.

Steady as they go into the bend, with crystalline lemon sugar in the lead, that's crystalline sugar, sour lemon and bergamot close behind, with brown spice and... I think that may be angelica bringing up the rear, with vetyver a distant last and benjoin is nowhere to be seen.

It's a sharp thing now with sour lemon and crystalline sugar in front as brown spice hides behind vetyver who is cutting up rough at the back, and bergamot is there or thereabouts, along with dry wood. Dry wood making a surge now...

The field enters a smooth passage as they fall into their stride. Sharp note seems to have lost some ground as brown spice and ionones recede, and the field approaches the far straight...

That's hard lemon in yellow, and I can see the flash of terpenes, bitter vetyver with a greenish coat, yes - and sharp note is still there...

Rosemary lavender is anonymous in the pack alongside also-rans neroli orange and amber fir, and benjoin seems to have stumbled at the back...

It's between hard lemon and green vetyver as they take the second fence with spiky note pressing hard, followed by brown spice and dry wood.

Lemon has lost its zest now as the pace slackens off. Vetyver looks grimly determined, keeping a hard countenance. Brown spice doesn't seem to be in contention anymore, the going isn't really suited to spices here, and dry wood at the back, but... benjoin is making a late showing now, in the far distance that looks like benjoin...

Coming into the home straight its bland woody and spiky note making the running now, with old lemon, and vetyver...

Old lemon on the inside next to bland woody and spiky note, with bland woody and vetyver bunching on the rails...
they've squeezed every last drop from old lemon now...
spiky note still attacking on the inside...

Bland woody neck and neck with old lemon...
and as they cross the line its poor persistence who's been gaining ground and who wins the 5000 Seconds Roger & Gallet Spritz event by a nose.
29th July, 2015

Caldey Island Lavender by Caldey Abbey Perfumes

It's misleading to call this a soliflor because that implies a simple and linear profile. Instead, Caldey Island Lavender is more like a journey through different facets of the plant.

Hugo Collumbien composed this in the same way as a talented gardener tends their shrubs.
Anyone can lop off bits here and there, but the real skill is to work with the bush to highlight its beauty and leave no trace.

****
28th July, 2015 (last edited: 25th October, 2015)

Voyageur by Jean Patou

The vessel that Voyageur comes in gives a misleading image of the juice inside.
The aquatic calone-lavender-citrus theme is there of course, but cantaloupe melon and a thin washed out pimento note, supported by a woody accord steers this journey towards a beach side taverna and not the high seas.

Sandal Mysore helps to offset the harsh side of the calone aquatic formula as it adds a welcome balsamic-tobacco sweetness.
Honey and mint nuances add further weight to the gourmand sub theme.

By three hours it feels like everything has been drenched by an enormous wave that crashed on the sea front leaving behind salted bitter plums.

Later you can smell a bit of amber floating about.

As a Cool Water clone Voyageur is obviously not new but an improvement on the original?
In my opinion yes. Cool Water is simply the point of departure for this voyage.

****
27th July, 2015

Eau du Sud by Annick Goutal

I broadly agree with AlHamr and Bal a Versailles' comments below.

Its no surprise that a modern Nose should draw inspiration from Eau Sauvage and go on to produce something resembling a streamlined reworking of Roudnitska's reference cologne-as-chypre composition.

Eau du Sud cuts the fibrous textured iris - floral heart right back and promotes, with lime, the juiciness of the citrus notes in its place, thereby revealing the desiccated woody bones of the structure at the same time. It's as though Annick Goutal took Eau Sauvage and exposed it to the harsh sun and winds of the Mediterranean garrigue until only the arid essentials were left, and then she juiced it up with lime - giving a skeletal lime scented version of Eau Sauvage.

It's also a decent woody citrus in its own right; which when stripped of the original's rather stuffy floral baggage becomes less grand but more at home in todays climate of skin and bone masculines.

***
19th July, 2015 (last edited: 03rd August, 2016)

Pino Silvestre by Silvestre

Putting on Pino Silvestre vintage aftershave takes you to a sunny carpenter's shop where newly cut pine and juniper wood leave odours of resin and sawdust floating in the air. Intensely fresh lemon brings the picture into high relief while underneath sits a sweet-dry grainy tonka and iris note.

This citrus - resin debut is a bit like vinegar, but - of course - it doesn't smell sour; its just the keenness of the knife like edges along the top where the similarity lies, and that doesn't last long at all.

Quite soon a rounder cedarwood and rubber accord emerges. The rubbery note is not unpleasant, it adds character and is different from the rubber in Bulgari Black, it's softer, more spongy and pink.
Bitter herbs then join the conversation adding their piquant Martini Vermouth accents. A light floral subtlety along with a minty overtone of geranium fills out the background.

After the citrus has burned off what remains is the strong central motif of resin and herbs on a background of cedar and rubber. This doesn't change much because the core ingredients are all long lasting, but there are slight differences in emphasis as it fades down to amber.

The structure is simple and quite dense.
Pino Silvestre works by combining many sharp odours (lemon, pine, juniper, basil, thyme, caraway, mint, lavender, clove, moss) and in this way it moderates the impact of any one of them. It's the olfactory equivalent of a bed of nails; a bit prickly but when all the points are in line nothing sticks up to pierce you.

A vigorously masculine scent, it speaks with the voice of an artisan, a man with capable, work-rough hands.
Pino Silvestre is for those times when you want to feel energised and ready for action.

Carpé diem

****
15th July, 2015 (last edited: 31st July, 2015)

Pino Silvestre Sport Cologne by Silvestre

Lemon drops - a clear and bright sweet lemon with a slight fizzy texture.

It doesn't take long for the top notes to vanish leaving an increasingly dull lemon with flashes of cedar.

When the pine does make it through the white noise it has none of the intensity that made the original great.

**
15th July, 2015

Baldessarini by Baldessarini

Gem of a cologne

The core of this really good sweet orange cologne is built on mandarin, fruity rose and balsamic notes, and around this a class of molecules related to rose oxide sets up a metallic ringing note that vibrates like a tuning fork way above hearing level.
These are glowing, red and orange jewel-like damascones.

Baldessarini's hi tech glass and steel character is oddly out of sync with its traditional citrus, wood and spice structure.
In this case, where damascones take the place of spice the effect feels both sci fi and passé, like a magical ruby shining in a bracelet of wood.

Baldessarini lies on a line that connects damascone-heavy Paris with the 1988 phenomenon Cool Water in which (according to Bois de Jasmin) the derivative Dynascone was used. Arriving on the cusp of the nineties, this Hugo Boss flagship masculine can be seen as fitting into the existing trend away from sillage monsters and towards a quieter decade.

But experience shows us the door to perfumery's new world order was not unlocked by damascones and their derivatives, the key was found in the other side of Cool Water's gateway structure; it was the watery and not metallic notes that best represented the movement towards a new purity.

Baldessarini saw the game was on but they backed the wrong team.
This extraordinary fantasy Cologne is from a bygone age but it is still beautiful none the less.

****

This review is about the original Hugo Boss version made by Prestige Beauté.
30-07-16

Postscript

Time has been finally been kind to Baldessarini. Its metallic orange head is now in fashion, feeling as it does like a template for the penetrating top notes of the mean-eyed, Sauvage style masculines.

The hard incisive top of Baldessarini has been brought back, but this time its with a difference. The expensive and fragile damascones which gave it that internal glow have been replaced by a grapefruit derived industrial molecule; what used to be the sheen of rose crystal has now become the sting of raw chilli.
08-09-16
12th July, 2015 (last edited: 08th September, 2016)
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Acqua Colonia Lemon & Ginger by 4711

A sweet pithy lemon with watery note and ginger. Not bad, but it isn't really a hot weather spritz as ginger is warming not cooling.
Beware of the white musk!
May have been better as a drink flavour.
**
06th July, 2015 (last edited: 05th August, 2015)

Eau de Rochas by Rochas

Despite containing lime, mandarin, lemon, grapefruit and bergamot, this doesn't feel like a cologne. The structure is confused; lacking coherence, the various blocks do not pull together and somewhere between the citrus, dry powder and a sour floral note it loses its way. In the modern version the result is well described as 'queasy' by RachelGrigg on another fragrance review website.

Appearing a year later than the simpler and superior dark mossy citrus of Ô de Lancôme in a virtually identical bottle, it is tempting to speculate that it was a 'me too' version that copied the form but didn't understand the spirit of the thing.

This clone de ô just doesn't work.

**
06th July, 2015

Monsieur Balmain (new) by Pierre Balmain

Decent citrussy eau de toilette with not bad staying power; a bit like a 12" remix of an eau de cologne (for those who remember the nineties).

***
05th July, 2015 (last edited: 27th October, 2018)

Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil by 4711

The fine nozzle on the Acqua Colonia bottles should make them ideal for a refreshing walk through on hot days.
Of the three I have this one is the best, a sweet orange accord, a touch of basil and a sour white musk.
**
03rd July, 2015 (last edited: 16th July, 2015)

Acqua Colonia Vetyver & Bergamot by 4711

The idea behind Acqua Colonia is perfect for the brand profile of 4711.
Simple colognes for a quick pick me up in hot weather.
The better examples do this admirably, they are refreshing and cheap enough to spray around or splash on with abandon. Anything other than this isn't going to work and this is the case with Vetyver & Bergamot.
Both materials are too heavy to be anything other than supporting modifiers for citruses, lavender and herbs.

It's too simple to be a real perfume and too sombre to be a cologne.
It also smells too synthetic and has an unnecessary, cloying sweet powdery note.

**
03rd July, 2015 (last edited: 04th July, 2015)

Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's

The piquant herbs that add a coarse texture to Blenheim Bouquet are the distinguishing feature that set it apart from an ordinary run of the mill cologne.

Unusually, there are no heart notes so the evolution of the rigorous herbal-citrus accord is characterised by a gradual mellowing at the edges; it's more of a slow decline than any real development.

Pine and moss convey the herbal theme into the drydown where it lasts for an impressively long time over the remnants of lemon scented elemi.

Blenheim Bouquet's linear structure mirrors the aristocratic Edwardian values of stability and continuity, and its character is appropriately formal for a black tie function at the palace.

It remains Penhaligon's best seller.

***
02nd July, 2015

Allure Homme Sport Cologne by Chanel

A hard and sharp lemon - citrus cologne with an unpleasant white musk base.
Smells like the wet wipes they hand out on buses in the middle east.
**
02nd July, 2015

Eau Sauvage Cologne by Christian Dior

Its hard to imagine how a sharp and penetrating material like grapefruit mercaptan, which I guess is being used here, could possibly be balanced in a harmonious accord.
Even such a talented perfumer as François Demachy with a strong track record - J'Adore, the Ungaro trilogy and with a lot of experience on Dior flankers, couldn't pull off the feat of taming this sulphurous beast of a note.

ES Cologne is a fine job of above average quality - as you would expect from Dior, and in the manner of the moment; but at the end of the day I can't say its good because it hurts my nose.

**

21st June, 2015 (last edited: 23rd September, 2015)

Quatre by Boucheron

Almost from the light citrus and peachy debut you become aware of a battery of ominous synthetics waiting in the wings.
Woody and musky odourants creep up on the synthetic indolic jasmin, preparing to coat the nostrils with the perfume equivalent of Chinese lacquer.
It achieves a repellant bitter-sour, slightly sweet, pink plastic fruity-floral effect which smells insultingly cheap.
*
21st June, 2015

White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor

It was told to me in all sincerity, dear reader, by the antiquarian book dealer who sold me this priceless gem, that the manuscript I present before you today is a genuine third hand translation of the original reproduction memorised by an assistant pot washer at the alchemical laboratory in Ho-leah Wood.
I was further lead to believe that the formule in question was conceived of by order of the Last Phaeroh and Queen of Egypt Cleopatra.
They tell me it was expressly done when she tired of the perfumed unguent her servants would bring to her, smelling darkly as it did of honey, cardamom, wine, ciste, myrrh, raisins incense, cloves, mastic and benjoin etc, and that she could not wash it from her hair.
The Empress therefore ordered the notable Alchemist Ben Ayim to engage upon the production of a perfume unique and justly suited to her personage as the most fabulously wealthy, beautiful and powerful woman ever.
The manuscript which I faithfully reproduce here is widely understood to be the product of the most exigent demands brought by the Queen upon her chief Nose.

MANUSCRIPT
Take ye the Spirits of persic and candelwick, flowers of the Rose of Turque, jessamens and the tuber rosa of the Frankes of Gresse. Riche wood and warm spyce, sweet powdered roote of oris, white lys and narcisse. Add to them spirits of wine and pass them through ye alembyc. Now : with the poddes of vanille, resine of ciste and olibane, & if ye regarde ye violettes put them in also. Be sure to find patchouly leaf, moss of oake and ambergries in small proportion for this receipt by her Ladys wishes .

Place in a cool cellar for 9 passages of ye moone, have thy apprentice turn the closed vessel by the week.
To the water thereof adde the pressed skins of the orange tree, flower of bitter orange also and bergames of Sicili. Leave again to turn by the app for 6 passes of ye moone till all hath attained a honeyed sweetness and by juste proportion do none injury.
Makes ane very good perfum indeede.

It be said of this recepe that the celebrated Cleopatra had it made by express command to Maitre Ben Ayeem ye alchymiste, and that she dide by her verry person closely tailor the makyng of it to her bounteyus pleasure and satysfactione.

END OF MANUSCRIPT

****
16th June, 2015 (last edited: 13th July, 2015)

Émeraude by Coty

Green baize : the motif of Émeraude is clear from the start. This woolen fabric used to cover card tables would have been familiar to François Coty as he was a player of the card game Piquet. Analysing the baize effect reveals an opposition of citronella and rose, a woody background with a hint of civet and a sweet note strongly contrasted with a bitter edge.

Very soon a powdery iris note rises. This seems to combine with a floral bouquet to give a bizarre yet delightful accord of soft pink sweet rubber, backed up by a hard and dry citrus note. A dark animalic undertone appears at times to be part of the citrus - floral accord, and at other times to form a base beneath it. Herbs also contribute to the picture, lending an additional piquancy and greenness. I think sage as well as the tarragon mentioned by Barbara Herman are candidates. There is more than a passing resemblance to Shalimar and the Guerlain style, in particular the use of herbs.

In a profile as complex as this it's possible to pick out several themes running side by side. At one moment it could display a pink rubbery floral, the next bright lemon and later toffee. Other combinations may pop up at any time giving the perfume an unpredictable character and lots of interest; and green baize shows up of course.

Although the feel is old fashioned it doesn't appear dated; its not of the moment but then its not a relic either.
Émeraude makes a quite acceptable masculine. The hardness of the citrus, its dark undertone and odd rubbery note all mitigate against an out and out feminine interpretation. In fact it doesn't feel like a feminine at all in todays terms, except maybe in the dry down.

The rubber also bears reference to Bulgari Black, but a passing glance, Coty wisely kept it toned down. The citrus is notable for its piquancy and impressive longevity; obviously there are more than citrus oils involved here, possibly aldehydes and elemi.

Although not short lived, by one hour all the elements are in place with a sweet toffee like amber already on display. Coty managed to push most of the profile's development into the opening phase, allowing it to merely unwind thereafter. This allows for the greatest complexity over the longest time, and he achieves this without sacrificing clarity. The structure is by no means linear however, and it may surprise you!

The green baize theme remains intact deep into the profile. How the baize is constructed and how it can last so long are not clear, but a galbanum resinoid seems to be a possibility.
Coty may have also used clary sage - judging by a tobacco note in the dry down. There seems to be a lot more going on here than the note pyramid would suggest.

The soupy aroma of opopanax forms one key to the base; its spicy side linking up with the herbs, and its resins combining with the balsam found in the other key - a vanillic amber which spreads a sweet powdery texture over the base.

A sweet and spicy jasmin bouquet, toffee like amber and civet lie on the card table at four hours. At seven hours what's left are amber, tobacco and pale dried flowers.

This is a fabulous ride, full of plot twists to keep the nose and brain engaged. The technical aspects are quite brilliant. The manner in which Coty could manipulate his materials is really accomplished, and all the more astonishing in someone who was largely self taught. Émeraude is built around his brilliant citronella and rose formula first used in Une Rose Jacqueminot - which was a huge success - taking a million francs in four months at the start of the twentieth century.

It's no wonder that there is a certain antique quality to Émeraude, it comes from another era and will soon be 100 years old, but no matter, this pictorial masterpiece in green is still just as beautiful today.

*****


This review is of the Perfume in a squat glass bauble labelled Coty Div. Pfizer and coded to year 04 in a ten year cycle. Which decade? I don't know.
11th June, 2015

Jeu d'Amour Eau de Parfum by Kenzo

Once the well made fruity iced tea accord has worn off - after about an hour, what's left is a Trésor clone of Stonehenge proportions.
***
07th June, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

Old fashioned dandified cologne of citrus and rose-jasmin.

***
05th June, 2015 (last edited: 07th August, 2018)

Amour Amour by Jean Patou

Pale creamy aldehydic with a pink strawberry floral. This is the blonde one of Patou's trio of hair colour perfumes and it does, occasionally give you the idea of blonde hair. This is mainly down to there being some costus in the formula - I suspect. Besides that, technically it's a rip off of No.5. Not bad though.

***
04th June, 2015 (last edited: 09th October, 2018)

Ho Hang by Balenciaga

Ho Hang is a naturalistic Italian style masculine with a cool citrus - basil core and a minimum of detailing. Spare and uncompromising, it lies somewhere between a dry Martini and Eau du Sud.
***
02nd June, 2015 (last edited: 12th June, 2015)

Carbone / Carbone de Balmain by Pierre Balmain

Smells like bubble gum and ivy in a dirty old pencil box.

**
01st June, 2015 (last edited: 20th January, 2017)

Vivre (original) by Molyneux

A dry green herbal chypre featuring a smooth body of lilac, cyclamen and jasmin. Rose and aldehydes act as the main modifiers. Musk ambrette in the base.

Thanks to Max Gavarry for his analysis of an Osmothèque reconstruction.

The drydown is a powerful combination of cosmetics and tweed; deeply unfashionable.
****
28th May, 2015