Perfume Reviews

Reviews by drseid

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Noble VII Cosmos Flower by Clive Christian

Cosmos Flower goes on with a slightly sharp, brief splash of mandarin coupled with a sugary sweet warm baked apple accord before moving to its heart. As the composition enters it early heart the benzoin derived sweetness remains, as a starring banana-laced jasmine-like ylang-ylang floral is unveiled, supported by soft cocoa and sweet caramel rising from the base. During the late dry-down the ylang-ylang vacates, leaving remnants of the cocoa and caramel to now support prominent, almost vanilla-like amber that takes center stage through the finish. Projection is below average and longevity average at 8-9 hours on skin.

With its relatively high sweetness quotient, coupled with gourmand facets like cocoa and caramel, a betting person would wisely believe that someone (like this writer) who is averse to sweet compositions would dislike Cosmos Flower, but surprisingly in this case they would be wrong. There is no denying that the sweetness is problematic and crosses the "danger zone" threshold. That said, the floral banana-like ylang-ylang really does meld well with the semi-gourmand facets, tempering the sweetness just enough to allow the (in this case sweet-averse) wearer to enjoy the experience. I doubt this writer will be running to purchase a bottle of the relatively sweet Cosmos Flower, but I can certainly appreciate the end result, and what many who *do* enjoy compositions on the sweet side of the spectrum will find quite appealing. The bottom line is the $550 per 50ml bottle Cosmos Flower will potentially be problematic to the sweet-averse, but is skillfully if not a tad simplistically composed, earning it a "very good" 3.5 stars out of 5 rating, and a recommendation to those with a fragrance sweet tooth.
12th January, 2020
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Baikal Gris by Areej le Doré

Baikal Gris opens with a lush coniferous green woody fir coupling with just a hint of salty ambergris before moving to its heart. As the composition reaches its early heart, the early coniferous fir gives way to pine-like coniferous cypress rising from the base that takes the fore underpinned by natural smelling, slightly sharp cedar wood and relatively dry and smooth real sandalwood. As the progression continues through the heart phase, the coniferous cypress gradually recedes, as the sandalwood and cedar woody tandem add a soft leathery facet with just a tinge of slightly powdery green oakmoss joining moderately sweet, powdery vanilla in support. During the late dry-down, the moderately powdery vanilla takes command, with remnants of the powdery oakmoss and sandalwood smoothing things out through the finish. Projection is slightly below average and longevity average at 8-9 hours on skin.

The first time I wore Baikal Gris the ambergris spiked coniferous open didn't agree with me at all. In fact, it bothered me enough that I pretty much stopped paying attention to things right there. I was fully prepared to slam the composition in this review based on the initial informal wearing, but an extremely rare thing happened this occurrence... I have done a complete 180 degree change in my opinion. Maybe it took me some time to adjust, or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for the composition last wearing, but today I am enjoying everything about it. Ironically the weakest aspect to me is the salty real ambergris that gets top billing due to its scarcity. In truth, the real allure is just about everything else, with the cypress, cedar and sandalwood notes the most prominent. Also prominent and unexpected was a gorgeous deep, soft leather accord not unlike the stuff found in vintage Bel Ami that reveals itself midway through the heart. Apart from the relatively benign ambergris, the composition is only slightly marred by its powdery mundane vanilla driven late dry-down. While that is kind of a "dime a dozen" finish, it is relatively short, and the rest of the journey is every-changing and highly enjoyable getting to it. The bottom line is the $195 per 30ml bottle Baikal Gris took some adjusting to, but turned out to be fabulous, earning and "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a solid recommendation to all.
04th January, 2020
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Derviche by Rogue Perfumery

Derviche opens with just a hint of nose tingling orange bergamot, combining with much more substantial relatively sweet starring amber-like labdanum rising from the base with a supporting cherry pipe tobacco accord underpinning it before gradually moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart the amber-like relatively sweet labdanum and now deepening pipe tobacco accord remain now as co-stars, as the the labdanum adds a leather-like facet to the mix along with supporting gentle warm saffron spice and subtle hints of floral jasmine. During the late dry-down, the composition remains linear as it eschews some of its early sweetness and the jasmine floral, as a mildly sweet vanilla and soft woody sandalwood tandem in the base gradually emerges and takes the fore, coupling with remnants of the labdanum and pipe tobacco remaining from the heart now in a supporting role through the finish. Projection is very good and longevity excellent at over 12 hours on skin.

It took me a bit of time to completely come around to Derviche. The early amber-like sweetness comes off a tad synthetic smelling and a touch too sweet for this writer's aversion to sweet compositions. That said, the ambery labdanum calms down as time passes as the pleasant smelling pipe-like tobacco accord takes hold. While the composition is pretty linear so changes happen very gradually, the subtle emergence of the less sweet vanilla and sandalwood from the base sneaks up on the wearer as a nice surprise that almost goes unnoticed and ultimately clinches the deal. While I doubt Derviche will go down as perfumer Cross' best work, when viewed as a relatively straightforward ambery sweet pipe tobacco and vanilla composition, it is a successful one that is hard to dislike and much easier to fall in love with, as I did. The bottom line is the $150 per 100ml bottle Derviche may not show off Mr. Cross' immense talent like the much more complex Chypre-Siam does, but for what it is, the composition is an addictive and successful relatively sweet pipe tobacco focused "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rated perfume that is recommended in particular to lovers of compositions like Tobacco Vanille, but want a bit more complexity.
29th December, 2019 (last edited: 30th December, 2019)
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Vétiver Nocturne Autumn ‘19 by Bortnikoff

There is an apparent laundry list of impressive ingredients to Vetiver Nocturne Autumn '19, but honestly most of the notes are either too well-blended to standout, or used in such small amounts as to be near-undetectable to this writer. As such, I will skip the usual more objective note and development section of the review and instead just get to what *is* smelled and my opinion of it. Projection is average, as is longevity at 8-10 hours on skin.

When first applied on skin, the vetiver immediately comes to the fore with a sharp, piercing concrete-like green/woody quality that is super-hardcore and will scare away all but the most ardent vetiver lovers (as this writer confesses to without shame). What comes next was wholly unexpected (as I sampled the composition blind without looking at the note pyramid and never sampled the original release), as some real Oud, perhaps Thailand based, emerges in support of the hardcore vetiver. The combination is something one doesn't smell often, or in my case, ever. It quite frankly doesn't work, at least not here. The Oud used does not come off as barnyard, but has an off-putting animalic element that just doesn't quite meld properly with the piercingly sharp vetiver. At this point the composition would have been viewed as a failure, but luckily the late dry-down partially salvages the overall result. This is accomplished as the Oud vacates, leaving the sharp vetiver to now pair with softening dry real sandalwood through the finish, proving a far superior combination that is rather pleasant smelling. The bottom line is the $330 per 50ml Vetiver Nocturne Autumn '19 gets points for innovation, quality ingredients and daring, but just doesn't smell particularly good earning it an "average" 2.5 stars out of 5 rating and an avoid recommendation to all but those who *really* want to smell an odd Oud and vetiver pairing for themselves.
25th December, 2019
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Gold by Puredistance

Gold opens with a brief splash of bergamot combining with gentle black pepper and dulled mandarin orange before transitioning to its heart. As the composition moves to its early heart, fine floral jasmine and slightly sweet benzoin join a significant thickening, smooth, suede-like leathery castoreum and labdanum tandem with hints of the earlier dulled mandarin orange now remaining in support. During the late dry-down, woody vetiver enters the mix, with the composition also adding slightly powdery vanilla to remnants of the suede-like castoreum and mildly sweet benzoin through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity is outstanding at over 20 hours on skin.

Gold is a composition created by a perfumer I have had gobs of problems with in the past to put it mildly. It goes without saying that when I heard Antoine Lie was behind the composition that I was highly confident I would dislike it, even scared to *try* it... I am still somewhat in shock as I write this, but can safely say that Gold is the best thing I have sniffed from Lie, and certainly different from his usual style. In truth, while the perfume may be a tad polarizing, the superb mix of the floral jasmine with the suede-like accord paired with the woody vetiver and slightly sweet elements all play perfectly against one another and the result impresses more and more over time. After multiple wearings I now can say I love the perfume and have bought a bottle. The bottom line is the $190 per 17.5ml bottle Gold is quite a positive surprise from perfumer Antoine Lie, earning an "Excellent" to "Outstanding" 4 to 4.5 stars rating out of 5 and a strong recommendation (even to people like me who usually don't care for Mr. Lie's past work).
21st December, 2019
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Chypre-Siam by Rogue Perfumery

Chypre-Siam goes on skin with a mandarin orange, lemon-lime hybrid smelling kaffir lime accord, with early hints of floral jasmine rising from the perfume's heart. As the composition moves to its early heart, the lush white floral jasmine becomes the focal point, with slightly powdery co-staring yellow floral ylang-ylang and significant mossy green oakmoss rising from the base, bolstered by the subtle underlying support of multiple culinary herbs. During the late dry-down the florals gradually recede, leaving the oakmoss to pair with moderately powdery benzoin and slightly sweet sandalwood, with the composition turning leathery late, derived from a touch of (possibly real) civet joining in through the finish. Projection is excellent, as is longevity at 12-15 hours on skin.

Wow... Chypre-Siam is a stunner. It is so classically structured with pre-IFRA restriction nonsense ingredient types and amounts that this vintage perfume lover would swear it came out of the early 1900's if I didn't know better. The juice is a gorgeous mossy-green, foretelling the tremendous jasmine and oakmoss driven chypre concoction that has perfect balance from top-to-bottom. Perfumer Cross has many different successful compositions in his repertoire, but Chypre-Siam is the one he probably should be most proud of. I suppose if ignoring the IFRA, one could yield a convincing chypre, but getting the complete balance down is far from easy and I am sure Chypre-Siam was a labor of love that could have taken years to perfect. As a grateful wearer, this writer can only thank Mr. Cross for using his obvious talent to keep the true classic chypre alive and well. The bottom line is the $150 per 100ml bottle Chypre-Siam is a completely successful resurrection of the classic chypre, while still adding new wrinkles to the mix, earning a "near-masterpiece" 4.5 out of 5 star rating, and a super-strong recommendation in particular to lovers of classically structured perfumes who lament genre destroying IFRA restrictions.
15th December, 2019
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Le Canotier by Rogue Perfumery

Le Canotier opens with a slightly bracing, bitter-green orange bergamot and violet leaf tandem before transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the sharp-green violet leaf recedes but remains, now joining dulled orange in support of an emerging lemon-like woody vetiver that takes the fore. During the late dry-down the composition development stays relatively linear as the vetiver remains the star, only softening slightly as time passes as the violet leaf vacates to reveal an underlying mild, natural smelling tobacco leaf in support through the finish. Projection is outstanding, as is longevity at well over 15 hours on skin.

Le Canotier is somewhat of a departure from most of the Rogue offerings by talented perfumer Manuel Cross. While most of the line focuses on compositions of the past, with many the *distant* past... Le Canotier feels quite modern in style and structure by comparison. I can see how one going into smelling the composition expecting a more classical structure based on the others in the line could walk away surprised and disappointed by the perfume, but this writer finds the sharp, lemony vetiver-centric modern perfume to be quite compelling and intoxicating regardless. The perfumer's deft use of the supporting blonde tobacco to take a bit of the edge off the vetiver as time passes is a particularly interesting and wholly successful choice, with the combination working well when sniffed up close on skin, but even more effective in the sillage. The bottom line is the $110 per 60ml bottle Le Canotier may be a stark departure for perfumer Cross, but in no way an unwelcome one, earning an "excellent" to "outstanding" 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rating, and an easy recommendation.
14th December, 2019
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Accenti by Gucci

**This is a review of the EDT version of Accenti**

Accenti opens with a splash of clean, slightly aldehydic mandarin orange with hints of peach before moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the moderately sweet peach takes the fore, joined by a co-starring floral trio of almost plum-like honeyed jasmine, soft, airy rose and clean lily-of-the-valley, with the fading mandarin staying just detectable in support, pairing with slightly powdery vanilla and moderately sweet sandalwood rising from the base. During the late dry-down, the slightly sweet sandalwood and gentle dusty vanilla take the fore, with remnants of the peach remaining in support through the finish as the florals vacate. Projection is average and longevity above average at around 10 hours on skin.

Let's cut to the chase... Ropion has created a masterwork with Accenti. I am not a peach fan in compositions at all, but it is impossible not to be intoxicated with its masterful use in Accenti; coupled perfectly with the complex honeyed Dior Poison-like jasmine, airy rose and relatively clean, slightly indolic lily-of-the-valley floral trio. The sandalwood and vanilla are also used deftly, adding moderately sweet grounding to the peach-laced florals, then providing a well-integrated soft landing through the finish as they gradually take the fore. The composition from top-to-bottom smells absolutely incredible, with no note or accord seeming out of place, all melding together perfectly. The bottom line is the sadly discontinued $200+ per 100ml bottle on the aftermarket Accenti is some of Dominique Ropion's finest work and well worth seeking out even at its current lofty aftermarket price point earning an "outstanding" 4.5 stars out of 5 and a super-strong recommendation.
07th December, 2019
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Fidelis by Histoires de Parfums

Fidelis opens with a very brief dash of soft raspberry before quickly transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the raspberry vacates, being replaced by a starring faux Oud wood accord (most likely cypriol derived), supported by a heavy cardamom, saffron and cumin spice trio that combine to create a sharp wet concrete-like accord in support of the starring Oud with a very subtle underlying integrated coffee note. As the composition moves through its middle, an almost pipe tobacco-like supporting accord joins in with the rest to keep things interesting. During the late dry-down, the composition significantly sweetens, as the Oud gradually recedes revealing the slightly powdery amber driven base, with traces of the saffron spice warming the amber through the finish. Projection is average and longevity excellent at about 12 hours on skin.

After having been extremely impressed with The Moon from Frederic Malle and hearing talk that its predecessor from perfumer Rasquinet, Fidelis, from Histoires de Parfums was the composition it may have been based on I had to get my nose on it to sniff for myself. To give my quick verdict, there is *some* shared DNA between the two, but no, these compositions are very far from twins and not at all interchangeable. Fidelis really is much more about warm spice and faux Oud than the jammy raspberry and real Oud oil, rose/patch focus of The Moon. While those seeking "The Moon on the cheap" may walk away disappointed with Fidelis, when viewed on its own it is successful in its own right. Rasquinet never lets the cypriol get out of control, taming it with the spice and a very clever coffee note that is extremely subtle but just sufficient to work with the spice to blend perfectly with the faux Oud. The late dry-down sneaks up on you, as the composition moves towards its amber-driven finish seemingly at a snail's pace, but the whole thing from top to bottom is quite skillfully done. The only real gripe this writer finds is what best can be described as a wet concrete accord throughout the mid-section of the composition's development. This, distracts to some degree from the Oud to prevent its complete dominance, but one may not quite care for the end result. The bottom line is the $160 per 60ml bottle Fidelis may not be a "The Moon on the cheap" solution to bargain hunters, but it is a "very good" smelling 3.5 stars out of 5 rated composition in its own right that is definitely recommended, regardless.
06th December, 2019
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The Moon by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

The Moon goes on skin with a clean blast of red raspberry before quickly moving to its early heart. As the composition enters the early heart, the raspberry remains, now joined by fecal, animalic real oud oil coupled with a lush rose and smooth patchouli tandem. This stage lasts about an hour, before the the barnyard oud oil gradually recedes, slowly being replaced by a hardcore smokey, leathery oud wood chips approximation (likely cypriol derived) that joins what now is more of a "vague red berry" accord. During the late dry-down, the red berry and hardcore leathery oud wood approximation now completely take the fore, as none of the initial real oud oil remains, only adding a hint of dry sandalwood to the final mix to tone down the ruggedness of the leathery oud wood as the composition very slowly moves toward its finish. Projection is excellent, and longevity legendary at nearly 24 hours on skin.

After just coming off a mild disappointment with another of the Middle East series offerings from Malle in the past week (see the review of "The Promise"), it was with some trepidation that I approached the more expensive "The Moon." When I sprayed the composition on skin, I can only say that very few opens I have encountered to date smelled this good. The red raspberry meshes perfectly with the rose, patchouli and real oud oil. When sniffed up close, the animalic fecal aspects of the oud are in full-force, but unlike Malle's The Night where the oud oil assaults your senses throughout, The Moon tones the assault down to allow the raspberry, rose and patchouli to shine right along with it. The sillage is actually where the composition impresses the most, as perfumer Rasquinet skillfully has the fecal aspects fade to the background, just leaving enough to add depth to the rest of the ingredients. The end result is absolutely superb smelling and worth the lofty price of admission alone. Alas, things are not all perfect with The Moon, as about two hours into the progression when the remnants of the oud oil vacate and the hardcore leathery oud chips approximation takes the fore, the composition becomes more like others in the genre, with the red berry accord and dry sandalwood keeping things different enough to still standout from the mob. In this case, while the whole development smells great, I dare say the first couple hours are what this writer would love to bottle and cherish. The bottom line in the case of the $750 per 100ml bottle of The Moon, is it really *is* all about the journey (and what a terrific one it is), earning an "outstanding" 4.5 stars out of 5 rating and an extremely strong recommendation to all who can afford it.
26th November, 2019
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Siberian Summer by Areej le Doré

Siberian Summer opens with a coniferous green fir balsam, adding just a hint of smoky camphor and birch tar support. As the composition moves to its early heart, the green coniferous fir remains, soon morphing into more of a relatively sharp green pine rising from the base, coupling with relatively benign musk. During the late dry-down, the green pine and musk tandem recedes but remains, now pairing with slightly powdery vanilla and barely sweet amber through the finish. Projection is average, and longevity very good at around 10 hours on skin.

The coniferous green open of Siberian Summer smells heavenly. It captures the smell of a coniferous green forest quite well without ever going overboard. When the composition adds the pine accord from the base it only reinforces the composition's biggest strength. The musk that is used to pair with the coniferous notes is likely synthetic (unlike the stuff used in many of the other Areej le Dore compositions), but while to many this may come as sacrilege, I find the synthetic stuff here much easier to digest and wear. Yes, it lacks the depth of the real stuff, but in this case it just feels "right" and never overpowers the other ingredients like the real stuff does in other compositions from the house. The only negative to this otherwise fine effort is in the late dry-down, where the composition turns to a very generic vanilla and amber driven powdery finish that is completely forgettable. The bottom line is the $160 per 30ml bottle Siberian Summer starts off outstanding but ends in a bit of a whimper, earning a 3.5 to 4 star out of 5 "very good" to "excellent" rating and a solid recommendation to all, especially coniferous composition lovers. It may end relatively mundane, but the journey in this case is worth it.
25th November, 2019
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Plumeria de Orris by Areej le Doré

Plumeria de Orris goes on skin with a blast of orris featuring an almost dense powdery character not unlike one found in fine make-up, coupled with hints of underlying plumeria, coming across similar to slightly sweet coconut. As the composition moves to its early heart, the orris now comes on strong, taking the sole starring role, with the plumeria continuing to smell somewhat similar to coconut, but adding a gardenia-like facet as the florals sharpen as time passes, adding a touch of additional sweetness from a vanilla and creamy sandalwood tandem that stays far back in additional subtle support. During the late dry-down the orris loses is powdery facet (and its detectable plumeria co-star), finally ceding its focal role to allow touches of woody, lemony vetiver in the base to emerge as co-star, with the sandalwood remaining in support as a slight sweetener through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity is outstanding at well over 12 hours on skin.

OK, now we're talking... While Orris/iris focal compositions tend to be some of my least favorites, Plumeria de Orris can't be denied as a truly fine effort. The ingredient quality is fabulous, with extremely high quality ingredients used. While I don't have a lot of prior experience with plumeria (as the ingredient is too expensive for most perfume ingredient budgets), sniffing it here has been quite the education as not only does it smell quite good, its facets seem to shift throughout the development making pinning down any easy way to describe it quite elusive. My use of words like coconut and gardenia really don't do the plumeria justice, but the truth is in its implementation here it doesn't quite smell like anything I have sniffed to date, making the experience all the more exciting and unique. The vetiver and sandalwood driven base is skillfully kept in-check to meld perfectly with the remnants of the orris, making for an outstanding late dry-down. The bottom line is the $200 per 30ml Plumeria de Orris may not be *my* kind of composition due to its orris focus, but it most certainly could and arguably *should* be many others', earning an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a strong recommendation to all orris/iris composition fans, and/or admirers of rare, unique smelling ingredients. Good stuff!
25th November, 2019
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Promise by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Promise opens with an intersting slightly sweet, but also tart unripened apple with underlying airy rose support. As the composition moves to its early heart, the apple vacates, leaving the airy rose to take the fore, adding sanitized light patchouli and mild pepper support, with faux-oud-like cypriol rising from the base, growing slowly in its intensity as time passes. As the composition moves to the late dry-down, the cypriol has become the star as the rose has long since vacated, staying so through the finish, only allowing hints of resinous dry honey-like labdanum to peep through in support. Projection is excellent, as is longevity at around 12 hours on skin.

When I first heard about "Promise" being another Ropion and Malle collaboration, I was really eager to try the composition, as Ropion does his best work under Malle's direction yielding great results like Portrait of a Lady, Une Fleur de Cassie, Carnal Flower, and the first offering in the Malle Middle East series, The Night. The chances of another winner seemed pretty high, but there was one key note that was a potential showstopper... cypriol. Cypriol is used by many perfume outfits to approximate the smell of oud. It might have been a tell-tale sign of things to come when Malle priced Promise significantly less than all the others in the Middle East series that used real oud within. I would like to say Ropion was able to skillfully tone down the cypriol in Promise, but alas it is the composition's downfall, marring an otherwise fine effort by the master. On the plus side, the tart apple note really is handled quite skillfully, pairing surprisingly well with the airy rose and the initially supporting cypriol. It is only when the cypriol becomes the star about midway through the heart phase of development that the composition loses its balance, and loses the "promise" of being a major winner for Malle. I suspect that with some time, a perfumer the caliber of Dominique Ropion would have been able to get the composition balance in tune, but alas, as is, Promise becomes the weakest effort of the Malle Middle East series, and leaves this writer considerably wanting. The bottom line is the $390 per 100ml bottle Promise has some innovative tricks up its sleeve, but just can't keep that faux oud from obscuring its finer points, earning a "good" to "very good" 3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars, and a tepid recommendation outside of any price considerations. If one considers the price tag, "Promise" is a tough sell.
24th November, 2019
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War and Peace by Areej le Doré

War and Peace goes on with nearly undetectable top notes, immediately shifting to its highly animalic musk and dense powdery orris root starring tandem supported by dark, gothic smelling rose. This floral animalic combination hangs around through the entire middle section of the composition's development until the rose gradually recedes and eventually disappears as the composition slowly moves to the late dry-down, revealing a base comprised of sharp, piercing woody vetiver that takes the fore joined by the now subdued powdery remnants of the orris root and animalic musk through the finish. Projection is excellent, and longevity is very good at 10-12 hours on skin.

War and Peace poses quite the quandary to this writer. On the one hand, the animalic musk and dark rose pairing, when coupled with the dense powder of the orris is *extremely* challenging to wear, dare I say wholly off-putting. Getting to the late dry-down is quite the chore, and quite frankly, I doubt I normally would have made it, scrubbing this sucker off as fast as possible. That said, I am happy to have endured the onslaught, as the late dry-down reveals an amazing hardcore vetiver, not unlike the stuff found in the Turtle Vetiver series from LesNez. As that vetiver is some of the best unadulterated stuff on the planet, being compared to it is high praise indeed. That said, I come full circle to the middle section of War and Peace that is just so tough to endure and ultimately I just can't say the great vetiver driven finish is quite worth it. The bottom line is the already sold out limited edition War and Peace displays some great quality materials, and a finish worthy of them, but the overly challenging price of admission proves too dear, yielding an "above average" 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5 rating and a neutral recommendation to all but the most ardent lovers of all things animalic.
24th November, 2019
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Antiquity by Areej le Doré

Antiquity goes on skin with a slightly effervescent, chocolatey deep Cambodian Oud with an underlying carnation and patchouli tandem in support. As the composition moves to its early heart, the oud settles down, moving to the background, ceding way to an emergent super-strong animalic, leathery musk that becomes the focal point of the composition through the entire mid-section. During the late dry-down, the musk finally recedes to unveil the powdery amber and oakmoss-driven base but still hangs around, now in support through the finish. Projection is excellent, as is longevity at around 12 hours on skin.

Antiquity is a composition that is a tough one for me to enjoy. The chocolatey real oud driven open gets things going on the right foot, but the leathery animalic musk and deep rugged patchouli driven heart is way over-the-top for this writer's tolerance level. One can certainly appreciate the ingredient quality used here that is obviously top-notch, but the composition is just too rough around the edges, lacking the polish to match. The powdery late dry-down is very ho-hum, with the perfumer choosing to feature the powdery facets of the oakmoss instead its mossy-green quality. One wonders what the end result would have been if the stellar ingredients used here were composed by a more professionally skilled hand. As things stand, the discontinued Antiquity has its moments, showing plenty of potential with some crazy good materials only to ultimately disappoint due to lack of polish and control, earning it a "good" rating of 3 stars out of 5 and a very hesitant recommendation to most unless you like your compositions "rough around the edges."
23rd November, 2019
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Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Superstitious opens with an airy rose, supported by soapy aldehydes. Moving to the early heart the soapy aldehydic-laden rose deepens, as it is joined by slightly bracing peach, smooth woody incense, and relatively sanitized jasmine, as hints of underlying woody vetiver peep through from the base. During the late dry-down the jasmine, incense and rose gradually vacate, first leaving the peach to couple with the sharp, woody vetiver and the remnants of the incense, before finally giving way to a vetiver and dry amber base tandem that finishes off the composition's relatively lengthy life-cycle. Projection is very good to excellent, and longevity is outstanding at over 15 hours on skin.

The past year or two have been tough for this reviewer. The perfume releases have not gotten any less numerous, but the quality and effort found in most of what was sniffed just wasn't there. As a result, there really hasn't been anything on the market that could inspire this writer to want to put any effort in posting a review. Enter Superstitious, composed by the great Dominique Ropion for the equally great Frederic Malle...

When I received early word of Superstitious' release I had to take note as most times Ropion and Malle come together for a release it is something special, and luckily, Superstitious does not disappoint.

Immediately when applied on skin the rose comes through, so light and airy. Some reviews I have read compare the rose to Portrait of a Lady, but I respectfully disagree. The rose in Portrait of a Lady is a lush, jammy rose that is the near polar opposite of the kind used here. This is a much more fluid rose that couples better in this implementation with the soapy aldehydes and the slightly bracing peach. Speaking of aldehydes and peach, I was a bit leery when I heard the composition might focus on them as neither have been favorites of mine in past compositions, but Ropion skillfully handles both by first presenting the soapy side of the aldehydes that is very different from their presentation in key legendary compositions like Chanel No. 5, while balancing the peach with fine, sanitized jasmine and clean woody incense. By the time the composition morphs into its sharp, woody vetiver-centric late dry-down it is hard not to be hooked. The end result is a modern perfume that reaches back to the past greats and feels right at home beside them.

The bottom line is the $370 per 100ml bottle Superstitious is living proof that Dominique Ropion is at his best when directed by Frederic Malle, and that neither has lost their magic touch, earning an outstanding 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rating and an easy recommendation from this writer who has had his interest in perfume renewed.
02nd May, 2017
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Le Petit Grain by Miller Harris

Le Petit Grain opens with a very natural lemon and bitter orange tandem with aromatic lavender and mint-like green rosemary support. Moving to the early heart, the lemon recedes, while the aromatic lavender and floral bitter orange gain strength, joining an emerging dominant woody green rose-like petitgrain that takes the fore with grassy, slightly woody vetiver providing additional support. During the late dry-down the composition turns much woodier, as the vetiver takes center stage with subtle oakmoss support through the finish. Projection is average but longevity outstanding at over 15 hours on skin.

I received a bottle of Le Petit Grain as a generous gift from a friend who will remain anonymous a while back (you know who you are), but I had never sniffed the perfume before and it never popped on my radar previously for trial. The first time I sprayed it on skin I knew my friend had chosen a "winner," but the composition appeared to be a bit of a "one trick pony," so to speak. Now having worn the perfume many times over, I can safely say that just isn't the case. Sure, as one might expect with a name "Le Petit Grain," petitgrain plays a very large role in the key mid-section of the composition's development, but after further review just as prominent as the petitgrain, is fine floral bitter orange that pairs perfectly with the ingredient. Additionally, while the bitter orange and petitgrain are the most easily identifiable, the aromatic lavender early and woody vetiver late are key to making the composition stand out over many other high quality petitgrain driven compositions. Ultimately, Le Petit Grain succeeds at providing the wearer a very pleasant smelling fresh, aromatic offering that is quite versatile, while providing a few twists along the way to keep one intrigued throughout the journey. The bottom line is Le Petit Grain is another winner from underrated perfumer Lyn Harris, earning it an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a strong recommendation to all. It goes without saying my friend chose well and I am very grateful to now have this wonderful perfume in my collection.
06th April, 2016
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Amour de Palazzo by Jul et Mad

Amour de Palazzo opens with a slightly sweet clove, aromatic ginger, cinnamon-like nutmeg and gentle pink pepper quartet. Moving to the early heart, the spice quartet remains, now in support of a leathery labdanum and deep patchouli duo that takes the fore, with an emerging incense-like cedar as key co-star. During the late dry-down the spice and labdanum vacate while the cedar remains, eschewing its incense-like facet as it joins natural woody papyrus in support of the emerging modestly sweet amber and slightly animalic musk focal base note pair through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity outstanding at well over 15 hours on skin.

Amour de Palazzo is a bit of a dark horse. One can immediately tell it smells exceptional from the get-go, but it appears more simplistic in structure and progression than it really is. It took a few wearings to really "crack the code" so to speak, but once one begins to notice the subtle shifts in its apparent linear progression you can't miss them going forward, and the perfume's charms become all the more apparent. The first thing one notices on application is the perfumer's deft use of mixing several spices that complement each other perfectly with just a taste of the leathery incense heart accord to come. Speaking of that leathery, woody incense, it really represents the soul of Amour de Palazzo, and to say it smells sublime is an understatement. The cedar and labdanum really drive the heart accord, but aromatic earthy patchouli really holds the two together. Then seamlessly and frequently unnoticed, the composition shifts to the fine amber, wood and musk laden late dry-down that smells completely natural. It goes without saying I am a big fan of Amour de Palazzo, but the highest compliment I can give is despite its relatively lofty price tag; I reached for my wallet and bought a bottle for my collection. The bottom line is the $260 per 50ml bottle Amour de Palazzo appears as an excellent but linear woody incense composition on first glance, but there is much more than meets the eye (or nose, if you will) to this "excellent" to "outstanding" 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rated composition and it is all good.
28th March, 2016
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Vaara by Penhaligon's

Vaara opens with a mild saffron spiced slightly dewy, airy rose. Moving to the early heart, the spiced airy rose remains as star, deepening, while adding in supporting moderately sweet honey, slightly sharp floral peony and well-integrated subdued cedar wood. During the late dry-down, the honeyed spiced rose considerably recedes, leaving its remnants supporting emerging slightly sweet sandalwood from the base. Projection is average but longevity very good at around 11 hours on skin.

Penhaligon's is a house that tends to offer up mundane, safe traditional perfumes. While there is nothing wrong with traditional, per se, it is the mundane that has generally disinterested me and many others. That said, the house while not veering too far from its roots has in recent years added some real character to its releases, beginning with the sublime Duchaufour-like As Sawira, and now with Duchaufour's own Vaara. Vaara starts things off on a high note with an outstandingly transparent and natural smelling watery rose. When the rose turns airy, adding the supporting peony floral, the mild, natural smelling cedar and fine saffron spice to the mix I knew Penhaligon's had another winner on their hands. The combination is extremely complex, and it took several wearings to really appreciate all its subtle nuances, especially the initially faint cedar that grows in strength as time passes though never calling attention to itself. If there is a mild weakness, it is in the late dry-down as the rose recedes and sandalwood takes the fore. This combination definitely works, but it lacks the complexity of the composition's mid-section. I suppose when one can only fault a late dry-down being "less complex" than the heart, it is not much in the way of criticism at all, and indeed in the case of Vaara there is little to criticize. The bottom line is Penhaligon's may have a stodgy release history, but the house is making subtle strides to change this and the $160 per 100ml bottle Vaara is yet another "excellent" rated 4 stars out of 5 success. Vaara may not be quirky or particularly innovative, but it does smell *darn* good!
17th March, 2016
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Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Monsieur opens with a very quick dash of orange-laced rum, as a slightly synthetic smelling vague wood infused smoky patchouli immediately emerges and takes control. Moving to the early heart the smoky, synthetic wood infused patchouli continues as star, increasing in strength while adding a slightly sweet vanilla and near soapy frankincense supporting tandem to the mix. During the late dry-down the patchouli remains, shedding its smoky facet, as a slightly animalic musk emerges as co-star, supported by smooth suede leather and remnants of the now dry vanilla through the finish. Projection is above average and longevity very good to excellent at around 12 hours on skin.

When I heard my favorite house was releasing a new composition that was supposed to be the "masculine" counterpart to my favorite perfume, Portrait of a Lady, I, like others got excited. While Portrait of a Lady certainly is "masculine" enough for me and most others who have actually worn it, sometimes macho gents need a perfume specifically marketed towards them in order to feel like they have the "green light" to wear the composition -- Enter Monsieur. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly evaporated when I found out the perfumer behind the new composition was not Portrait of a Lady's brilliant nose Dominique Ropion, but rather Bruno Jovanovic, easily the least talented perfumer in the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stable (with only one "passable" release -- Malle's own Dries van Noten). Uh oh... Enormous disappointment in perfumer choice aside, could Monsieur prove that all of Jovanovic's many previous sub-par perfume outings were just learning opportunities for creating his first masterpiece (or even his first winner) in Monsieur? Time to find out...

Monsieur has been touted by Malle as containing one of the largest concentrations of patchouli in a perfume, and having now worn the composition on skin several times I can definitely believe it. Monsieur is almost *all* patchouli, all the time. This would not be so bad in and of itself (if not a tad boring), but the patchouli presentation used in Monsieur is of the somewhat rough around the edges aromatic smoky variety. This is the polar opposite presentation of the ingredient to the one favored by this writer. One could have hoped for smooth sophisticated patchouli like the stuff found in Javanese Patchouli by Zegna, but instead we get rough and ready patchouli a la Patchouli 24 by Le Labo without the far superior perfumer's skill used on that one. It doesn't help that the composition is extremely linear, with the smoky synthetic wood-laced patchouli taking center stage throughout from start to finish, only adding significant supporting musk and a touch of softening suede leather late. In truth, suede in the late dry-down is the only thing that separates this perfume from being a total failure, instead salvaging it to the level of minor disappointment. What it *doesn't* do to this writer's chagrin is buck the trend of unfortunate releases by perfumer Jovanovic. One has to wonder when Malle has so many top superstar perfumers "under his roof," so to speak, why add someone to the fold who isn't anywhere near their talent level? The bottom line is the $290 per 100ml bottle Monsieur does nothing to buck the trend of disappointment after disappointment by perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, earning it a "below average" 2 to 2.5 stars out of 5 rating and a mild avoid recommendation. My advice is to stick with *far* superior Portrait of a Lady and just call it "Monsieur," if you must... This release only confirms a counterpart was never needed, nor wanted!
22nd February, 2016 (last edited: 04th January, 2020)
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Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Baccarat Rouge 540 opens with a brief dash of saffron spice infused dulled orange before quickly moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the orange morphs to a vague, slightly transparent and relatively sweet fruity floral jasmine accord, as powerful woody amber takes on the starring role, with significant powdery oakmoss and fir balsam support. During the late dry-down the composition remains highly linear as the powder infused woody amber continues to control sans the jasmine and sweetness, now with mild cedarwood support through the finish. Projection is very good to excellent and longevity outstanding at nearly 24 hours on skin.

What a stinker Baccarat Rouge 540 is. I knew in seconds I would detest this composition, and sadly after a couple full wearings on skin my opinion hasn't changed. The initial dulled orange is tolerable, but that only lasts five seconds before the composition turns cloyingly sweet from the woody amber, and extremely powdery from an unpleasant and poorly implemented oakmoss and fir balsam tandem that is suffocating to the powder averse like this writer. As the composition is highly linear, things don't change much all the way through the finish, letting the nose torture continue on and on... and on. In truth, there really isn't anything I can say positive about the composition's smell as it is all bad, really. At least on the flip-side for those perfume warriors that can tolerate wearing this scary stuff, the performance metrics, especially longevity, are absolutely outstanding. So if you are insistent on wearing an early "worst new perfume of 2016" candidate (at least easily to the nose of this writer), you will live with this stuff all day and all night without any fear of it wearing off. The bottom line is Baccarat Rouge 540 may seem like a relative bargain at its current selling price of $300 per 70ml bottle (as it originally was sold as a 250 piece limited edition in a fancy Baccarat crystal bottle for an eye popping $4000), but in truth $3 is paying too much for this "poor" to "very poor" 1 to 1.5 stars out of 5 rated horror. Spending your $300 at the baccarat *table* is a better investment.
14th February, 2016
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French Line by Révillon

French Line goes on with an aromatic mix of mild, slightly powdery rose, carnation and jasmine with hints of subdued coconut and more substantial sanitized patchouli support, before quickly moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the now supporting rose, carnation and jasmine floral melange gains slightly more powder as it pairs with powdery amber from the base, now joining a significant co-starring moderately rough leather and patchouli tandem that takes the fore. During the late dry-down the amber-laced florals take a back seat, as remnants of the sanitized patchouli and subdued coconut join slightly animalic musk through the finish. Projection is excellent and longevity very good at around 10 hours on skin.

French Line is a real find. On first glance, one sees a relatively unimpressive looking bottle that doesn't inspire confidence in its contents, but looks can be deceiving and indeed in this case they are. As soon as one applies the composition on skin you get a quick whiff of wormwood before the sublime rose and carnation florals take over. When the jasmine, patchouli and leather join the fold, the composition smells absolutely heavenly and probably is at the best part of its universally great development. The powder, shortly thereafter, gains some steam, firing a warning shot that it might go too far, but the perfumer skillfully stays just under the "danger line" for the powder averse like this writer to enjoy the composition while providing enough of the stuff for powder fans too. The late dry-down is probably the least interesting aspect of the composition's development, not because it smells anything less than exceptional, but rather because it is rather subdued, as the aromatics largely vacate to shift to a slightly animalic musk driven finish with patchouli and coconut support adding subtle depth. Speaking of the coconut, while it never is a huge player in the composition's overall fragrance profile it deserves special mention. When one envisions coconut they probably are thinking tropical drinks and climate, but the stuff used in French Line is much more subdued and skillfully used than that. There is no "tropical island" vibe in French Line at all, with the coconut used more as a softener to the aromatics and later to the musk. At the end of the day, French Line proves that one should not let a fancy bottle (or in this case the opposite) drive whether one should or shouldn't try a composition, as if you skip sampling French Line due to its unimpressive housing you are missing yet another one of the 80s wonderful smelling greats. The bottom line is the long since discontinued French Line is very difficult to find and will most likely cost one dearly to acquire on the aftermarket, but with its extremely polished mix of florals, leather, patchouli and even coconut, this "excellent" to "outstanding" 4 to 4.5 star rated rare gem is absolutely worth the effort and cost to acquire. Superb!
04th February, 2016 (last edited: 03rd February, 2016)
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Sicilian Mandarin by Ermenegildo Zegna

Sicilian Mandarin goes on with an aromatic mix of sharp bergamot and mandarin orange with green petitgrain support. Moving to the early heart, the bergamot vacates with the mandarin and petitgrain remaining now as co-stars, as an underlying vague synthetic woody accord mixed with hints of spearmint permeates the green citrus aromatics. During the late dry-down the composition stays relatively linear, but the vague woods meld near-seamlessly into the petitgrain with the mandarin tandem, remaining in faint support through the finish. Projection is above average and longevity good at 9-10 hours on skin.

Zegna's Essenze collection has pretty much impressed across the board, so I decided on buying one of the sole offerings I had not experienced previously, Sicilian Mandarin, when a rare significantly discounted bottle showed up on the market. Now having worn the composition on skin many times over there is a lot to commend, but all is not rosy. The open is probably the best part of the composition's development, as like others in the Essenze collection, Sicilian Mandarin uses very high quality bergamot up top, meshing perfectly with a very believable mandarin and petitgrain tandem. So far, so great! Then things move into reverse as a vague synthetic woody accord joins the fray, most likely norlimbanol derived. These norlimbanol derived vague synthetic woods thankfully are used rather deftly by perfumer Harry Freemont, but particularly in the early heart they still call too much attention to themselves, detracting from the fine green citrus aromatics. The other minor negative is the composition doesn't really develop much thereafter, with the key movement being the much better integration of the synthetic woods into the aromatics. One additional mention of note is that most find the composition's projection metric rather lacking, but I didn't. No, this is no powerhouse for sure, but the first couple hours in particular had significant projection on skin. All-in-all, Sicilian Mandarin may be one of the weakest entries in the Essenze line (if not the weakest), but despite its shortcomings I can't say I regret the blind buy at about 45% off of full retail price. Had I paid full retail I might be singing a slightly different tune about the blind buy, but there is no denying even the weakest link in the Essenze series still smells pretty darn good. If only Zegna provided samples of this line to prospective customers it would get a lot more well-deserved recognition, but alas, the only way to experience the Essenze line is through only a couple retailers in-person. The bottom line is the $195 per 125ml bottle Sicilian Mandarin is far from perfect, but the "good" to "very good" 3 to 3.5 stars out of 5 rated composition still has a lot to recommend, earning it a solid recommendation to all.
19th January, 2016
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Exception by Gainsboro

Exception opens with a benzoin sweetened mild cinnamon spice and patchouli tandem, with significant aromatic lavender support. Moving to the composition's early heart the cinnamon turns nutmeg-like, as natural smelling cedarwood rises from the base to join the remaining slightly sweet patchouli and aromatic lavender. As the composition continues through its mid-section the lavender gradually shifts from aromatic to powdery, as aromatic green fir and powdery oakmoss join the remnants of the patchouli in support with the cedarwood and benzoin vacating. During the late dry-down the moderately powdery green fir and oakmoss tandem remain in control as relatively dry sandalwood joins as co-star and slightly powdery vanilla and deep amber add support through the finish. Projection is excellent as is longevity at just under 15 hours on skin.

Exception is yet another great 80s powerhouse composition that while relatively unknown, deserves so much better. As soon as one applies the composition on skin you immediately get a gorgeous gentle cinnamon and mild to moderately sweet patchouli tandem that melds perfectly with the supporting aromatic lavender. All three key ingredients are completely believable. When the composition adds in fine smelling cedar to the mix it gets even better. In truth, I would not be surprised at all if the composition contains a relatively large quantity of high quality naturals throughout. On the flip side, if there is any weakness worthy of minor mention it is later in the heart when the powdery oakmoss and coniferous fir join the party, as the powder gets just a tad overwhelming for a period of time before the sandalwood in the late dry-down effectively cuts it. All-in-all, Exception is yet another raging success from Men's marketed perfume's greatest decade. In short, Exception is nothing short of Exceptional! The bottom line is the long-since discontinued and relatively difficult to find Exception is proof positive that even drug store perfumes from the 80s largely smelled great, earning an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rating and a strong recommendation to powerhouse fans.
13th January, 2016
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Salome by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Salome opens with a honeyed musky orange before quickly moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the initial musky orange turns into indolic orange blossom, as an absolutely huge amount of starring dirty cumin spice enters, joined by co-starring animalic hyrax, with dirty jasmine and slightly powdery carnation in support. During the late dry-down the dirty florals and the cumin recede and finally vacate, leaving the remnants of the animalic hyrax and now moderately powdery carnation to join hay-like coumarin through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity outstanding at well over 15 hours on skin.

Salome has been making quite the splash on the perfume scene since its release last year in 2015. One of the frequently mentioned standout attributes claimed is its heavy use of animalics, and this reviewer definitely concurs, for better or for worse. The key animalic attribute used in the composition's heart is hyrax. The best way to describe hyrax is an animalic hybrid with characteristics of musk, civet and castoreum. In the case of Salome, the musk aspect comes out early, and as time passes the smooth castoreum facet takes control in the late dry-down with the civet relatively subdued throughout. If the liberal use of hyrax isn't animalic enough for you, the perfumer adds indolic jasmine and orange blossom to the mix for an increased dirty nature to the composition. While one might think all these indoles and musky animalics would be too much to handle, surprisingly they work to a relatively large degree, especially late when the castoreum-like facet of the hyrax controls. Unfortunately, there is a big show-stopper here, and it is in the form of an extremely large amount of dirty cumin spice that shows up seconds after initial application and dominates through the early heart, not completely vacating until the late-dry-down. This dirty spice is wholly unnecessary and overpowering to the extreme. It is as if the perfumer wants to dare the wearer to see just how far over the line they can go before crying "Uncle". For this writer, the animalics, while not really to my taste were tolerable, the indolic florals while additionally not to my taste were surprisingly interesting, and the powdery carnation never got too powdery to call it a day. Unfortunately, that dirty cumin used was just too darn much, particularly when added to the already overly dirty animalic mix. At the end of the day, Salome is the kind of composition one can appreciate as a work of art, but wearing it is quite another thing and this writer *wears* perfumes. The bottom line is the $160 per 50ml bottle Salome is definitely a departure from the common, bland "fresh" compositions of today, but while its heavy indolic florals and deep musky animalics are tough to wear but never overly-so, its dirty cumin absolutely is, earning it an "average" 2.5 stars out of 5 rating and a neutral recommendation. Setting aside the rating, if deep musky animalics with dirty cumin spice work for you, absolutely give Salome a try as it is bound to impress (though I would argue many vintage spicy animalic perfumes smell better, are much more wearable and can be had for considerably less money with some effort), but if heavy animalics, indoles and dirty spice are not your thing, this one will scare the heck out of you!
03rd January, 2016 (last edited: 05th January, 2016)
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Basenotes Kiss My Ass by O'Driù

BaseNotes Kiss My Ass opens with a heavy mix of culinary herbs and spices, with fiery red pepper and cumin as two key standouts with a deep olive-like significant supporting accord. As the composition moves to its heart (it contains no base notes, hence one of the reasons for the name) the fiery spice and herb laden olive-accord gains a relatively rough leathery facet, along with a mix of dulled florals that gradually turn slightly powdery near the finish. Projection is very good, and longevity excellent at around 12 hours on skin.

When I first heard this composition was being released at the tail-end of 2015, I didn't really know what to expect. With a name like "BaseNotes Kiss My Ass" (not so subtly alluding to the Basenotes perfume related web site that Pregoni has had issues with) the composition could have intentionally been made as an awful foul smelling concoction created as a potentially vindictive gag, but luckily, perfumer Angelo Pregoni instead chose to create a serious (or at least as serious as he gets) composition that has no base notes -- and it smells amazing. The open is immediately recognizable as Pregoni's trademark blend of culinary herbs, fiery spices and subdued florals, but in similar fashion to his composition I named the best smelling perfume of 2015 of those I sniffed, Scent & Chemistry Kiss My Ass, this one is more reminiscent of Pregoni's original O'driu series releases. As I feel many of the original series from the house were Pregoni's more innovative, talented and provocative work, this is a very good thing and I hope he continues on this path. Without base notes one might expect the composition to fall apart on skin relatively quickly, but my experience has been anything but, with the composition holding up extremely well in all performance metrics, not reigning in the projection and adding a very well-done leathery facet to the key heart with excellent effect. The bottom line is the 32 piece limited edition $260 per 75ml bottle BaseNotes Kiss My Ass has Pregoni finishing the 2015 year in fine fashion, adding a successful follow-up to the first composition in the new series, earning an "excellent" to "outstanding" 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rating and a very strong recommendation to fans of the house.
02nd January, 2016
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Habit Rouge Dress Code by Guerlain

Habit Rouge Dress Code opens with a strong blast of slightly sharp orange citrus bergamot with a hint of underlying dulled soapy rose. As the composition moves to its early heart a slightly spiced woody accord takes control with a co-starring moderately sweet tonka bean and vanilla tandem with moderately rough leather joining the remaining dulled soapy rose in support. During the late dry-down the composition remains highly linear, as the vanilla and tonka sweetened mild spiced woods remain, with the leather gradually receding, revealing a slightly creamy praline supporting note hanging around through the finish. Projection is deceptively outstanding, as is longevity at over 20 hours on skin.

Habit Rouge is one of the most historically significant perfumes targeted to men in fragrance history. As such, any new release that uses its name in the title like Habit Rouge Dress Code does is bound to be heavily scrutinized. In the case of this reviewer, the original Habit Rouge didn't wow on first or even second impressions, taking quite a considerable time to win me over, but while I never *loved* it, win me over to at least a largely positive opinion it did, enough for me to buy and keep a bottle in my collection. In the case of Dress Code, perfumer Thierry Wasser definitely recognizes and honors the original Habit Rouge's roots by keeping many of the classic's characteristics within, but Dress Code definitely goes much further than just rehashing the past. In this case, the lemon open of the original is swapped for a more orange-like bergamot, with an almost gauze-like soapy rose undertone. The result is surely interesting, but a big step backwards, as the lemon open was my favorite part of classic Habit Rouge. Things in the heart then turn to a moderately sweet, near-gourmand aspect in Dress Code, with its heavy reliance on a tonka bean, vanilla and creamy praline trio melding with smooth woods and supporting dulled soapy rose. In my mind, this creamy sweetness is a major step back from the more aromatic dry classic, but there is no denying that Wasser takes some risks here while not tarnishing the original's distinct identity within. On the plus side is very nice leather that is used to balance some of the more gourmand aspects of Dress Code, and in this case it is handled extremely well, mixing with the rest of the ingredients perfectly. All-in-all Dress Code is an intriguing and relatively innovative flanker of a well-regarded classic, but one has to wonder if sweetening the composition was the best way to go. In the mind of this sweetness averse reviewer the answer is a resounding "no," but to those that love the classic and can tolerate moderate sweetness in their compositions, Dress Code could be a great fit. The bottom line is the $100 per 100ml bottle Habit Rouge Dress Code keeps strong ties and reverence to its classic parent, but veers off in an unconventional and potentially polarizing way, earning it an "average" 2.5 stars out of 5 rating and a "neutral" recommendation. If you love the original I suspect you will enjoy Dress Code too, but if the original wasn't your cup of tea and/or you dislike relative sweetness in your compositions like me, I dare say Dress Code may disappoint.
22nd December, 2015
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Equipage Géranium by Hermès

Equipage Geranium opens with a blast of soapy fresh, natural minty green geranium with a dulled rose undertone. Moving to the early heart, the slightly sharp, minty green geranium takes the fore, melding with a co-starring lemony sandalwood and rosewood tandem, as a spicy saddle soap accord joins in support. During the late dry-down the sandalwood takes control, as the geranium vacates, turning relatively dry while eschewing its earlier lemony facet, as the leathery spice mixture remains in support through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity good at between 8-10 hours on skin.

I am one of the relatively few people who never quite warmed to the original Equipage, even the original formulation. Oh, I have a vintage bottle in my collection to keep my "perfume enthusiast" card intact, but in all honesty I never wear it, as while I can appreciate the composition's quality and the skill used to create it, something about the rosewood in it just did not click with my taste, coming off a tad stodgy. Enter the 2015 release, Equipage Geranium by Jean-Claude Ellena... While many may question my sanity, I have worn this new composition on skin many, many times and I dare say Ellena has found a way to take the original Equipage foundation and successfully bring the composition into modern times by adding a fresh, soapy clean minty green geranium to the top and heart notes. One wouldn't think this would have a dramatic impact on the composition, but it really does. The result is a perfume that retains its classic roots while additionally feeling just a tad modern, enough so that wearing it is easy for all. Ellena also added a spice mixture to the woods that does a great imitation of supple leather. The whole thing is an outstanding effort that may be Ellena's final solo output for Hermes before retirement, and if so, he is going out on a very high note. The bottom line is the $128 per 100ml bottle Equipage Geranium is potentially Jean-Claude Ellena's swan song for Hermes, delivering the goods big time with his best work in a decade, earning an "outstanding" 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rating and a very strong recommendation to all. Equipage Geranium is surely one of the best compositions of 2015.
13th December, 2015
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Trance by Betrix

Trance opens with a slightly sweet deep, jasmine spiced fruity hybrid pruned plum accord with a vague woody undertone. Moving to the early heart, the spiced pruned fruit melds with the woods as co-stars, with smoky amber joining in support. During the late dry-down the majority of the fruit vacates as slightly powdery remnants of the amber join the jasmine spice and wood through the finish. Projection is outstanding and longevity excellent at well over 12 hours on skin.

Trance is one of those obscure discontinued late 80s compositions that have fallen under the radar of most perfume enthusiasts. It quite frankly would have done the same for this writer had it not been composed by Edouard Flechier of Parfum d'Homme, Havana, Une Rose, etc. fame... Oh yes, and of course there is also his mid-80's blockbuster, Poison, which actually is what Trance most reminds this writer of. Indeed, as soon as one sprays Trance on skin the tie to vintage Poison's jasmine and plum is all too apparent. In the case of Trance, Flechier takes a lot of his winning Poison formula and tweaks the plum to a more dried prune-like fruity aspect, while adding in some vague but far from synthetic smelling woods. Trance's late dry-down goes in a different direction than its predecessor, with a gorgeous combination of the woods with the remnants of the floral jasmine spice proving an intoxicating combination. So in short, while the original vintage Poison is a masterpiece and needed no alterations, Trance really proves equal to the task, adding yet another winner among so many others to Mr. Flechier's vast repertoire. The bottom line is the long-since discontinued and extremely rare Trance may have significant ties to Flechier's own earlier masterpiece Poison, but it proves that similar to how he changed Montana's great Parfum d'Homme into the equally great Havana by Aramis, with a bit of tinkering vintage Poison's formula works yet again in Trance, earning it an "outstanding" 4.5 stars out of 5 and an extremely strong recommendation if you can find a bottle or sample (and yes, it is definitely worth the effort to do so). Chalk up one more masterpiece for Mr. Flechier!
15th November, 2015
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Tuscan Soul : Convivio by Salvatore Ferragamo

Convivio opens with a nose tingling blast of bitter grapefruit before slowly transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart the grapefruit smooths out, but remains as it joins coniferous green, woody cypress with a mild synthetic blonde woody undertone. As the composition moves through the heart phase the cypress becomes the focal note with the grapefruit receding to just noticeable support, as the synthetic blonde woody undertone gains a bit more prominence. During the late dry-down the composition eschews most of its coniferous aspect, leaving the remnants in support of the smoothed out synthetic blonde woody accord with subtle underlying traces of rugged leather through the finish. Projection is average, but longevity excellent at around 15 hours on skin.

Convivio starts out with a really nice fresh blast of grapefruit, but that kind of thing has been done many times over. The composition truly starts to distinguish itself from other fresh perfume when the coniferous green, woody cypress takes over in its mid-section. This is also the point where the synthetic blonde woody accord makes itself known. The blonde woods are derived near certainly from cashmeran, an ingredient that usually is a deal breaker as it tends to overpower most compositions. Luckily, in Convivio's case, perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin has done an outstanding job of keeping the cashmeran-derived blonde woods to a very subtle, well-controlled level that supports the cypress surprisingly well. The late dry-down, however, is probably the best part of the composition's development as the cashmeran joins ambroxan to smooth out but also enhance the blonde woods with the remnants of the cypress adding just the right natural smelling woody counter with even a touch of leather detectable late. The composition is far from perfect, and the cypress can be just a bit much as it reaches its peak mid-heart but all-in-all Convivio is a refreshingly light blend of naturals and synthetics in harmony with each other, creating an appealing result. The bottom line is the $190 per 75ml bottle Convivio has its flaws, but is particularly notable in the way it utilizes cashmeran so skillfully that it adds to its appeal, earning it a "very good" 3.5 star out of 5 rating. Certainly recommended smell-wise, but Convivio's full retail price may be a bit of a stretch.
15th November, 2015