Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Phil Cape

Total Reviews: 8

Tom Ford Extreme by Tom Ford

I just discovered TF Extreme last week at Heathrow airport. (Very late to the party, I know...) I was in instantly captivated by the strange, enigmatic, dark notes. To me it was reminiscent of the peaty, tarry nose on some Scotch whiskies - in particular Lagavulin which has this dark, peaty aroma in spades. I wasn't sure if I really wanted that in a perfume but remained intrigued. While chatting to the lovely young woman at the Jo Malone counter I asked her opinion of it on my skin and she said "interesting... makes you keep wanting to come back and sniff it again". Which really verbalised my own experience - so I threw caution to the winds, flashed the plastic and bought it!

Where others smell rubber I find it more smoky or peaty - in a pleasantly organic way. It reminds me of the "rubber" note in Bulgari Black but here it is much less sweet and all the better for it. There is the hint of toffee or caramel but again it reminds me of the caramel notes in whiskies - very dry and not at all cloying (The complete antithesis of a Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur!) Unfortunately, the smokiness that so fascinates me fades rather quickly. Still, there's plenty of depth in the remaining spice and wood to keep it interesting - if not quite so captivating - for a few hours longer.
26th June, 2011

Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

Guerlain’s Vetiver was something of an epiphany for me many years ago and has held a very special place in my affections ever since. As a consequence I am well-disposed to vetiver fragrances in general but do not expect to find them nearly as seductive and intriguing as the Guerlain.

I am also put off fashion designer names on perfumes for some reason. I realise this is a nonsensical prejudice but there it is. So imagine my surprise when a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic sales person introduced me to Grey Vetiver last November – and I instantly liked it. (He suggested that it makes a terrific base for combining with other perfumes too, something I haven’t tried yet.)

I resisted the temptation to buy at once. It really is criminally expensive, and that makes me suspicious of hype over substance. But passing through a store the other day I spritzed some on and was again totally beguiled. So I bought some a few days later.

I love the treatment with citrus and bitter spices and wood and it lasts very well for me without losing its complexity. I could never mistake it for the Guerlain and find each unique and satisfying in different ways. The name is pure genius – I didn’t know that grey had a smell but like michailG I think it must smell like this. Maybe because it is dry and has a classy complexity to it while remaining quite discreet. Very easy to wear day or night. I love it!
13th June, 2010

Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone

I feel like an ignoramus from a different planet when I read most of the reviews of this fragrance. (But as far as I know only the first part is true.) For me Pomegranate Noir is truly awful! JM categorises it as a “fruity” fragrance and if I am very quick there is a nondescript fruity smell initially – though not resembling any pomegranate I have ever known.

But that is entirely irrelevant as it is completely overwhelmed by a dreadful, chemical pong sickeningly reminiscent of industrial strength antiseptic. To make matters worse it’s the type of smell that gets stuck in your nose and feels as if it has bound itself to your nasal mucous. And it lasts! And lasts and lasts. It is still evident after 24 hours and doesn't wash off easily. I thought that maybe I just didn’t “get it” until my partner complained about the stench and begged me not to wear it again. I bought it as part of the combining coffret and have tried combining it without success; that overwhelming chemical odour just overpowers everything.

We’re trying it as a toilet spray in our guest loo now at the risk of making out guests gag. Let’s see what reaction it gets...

Update: What fresh hell is this?! Someone has sprayed this in the vicinity of the downstairs loo. It is now 7 hours later and the noxious smell still lingers in a pernicious pall. That's it: I will have to trash this. But am not sure how - it must surely constitute a chemical hazard!
01st February, 2010
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Sweet Lime and Cedar by Jo Malone

I have a certain fascination with Jo Malone scents. They are often described here as linear and maybe that's what I like: a clear statement with fairly simple suppporting or contrasting accords. Like a strong melody accompanied by transparent orchestration.

But what's wrong with me? When I tried this in the shop I was completely enamoured of the tart lime contrasted with warm, aromatic cedar. Waited to buy it from JM's airport shop and now I can't find the tartness anywhere! Not even on the very first sniff. To be fair it is called "sweet lime" and the sweetness is definitely there but seems more associated with the gardenia than anything citrus. And that lack of tartness has completely destroyed the balance of the scent for me. I find what remains a bit too diffuse and although it's not unpleasant I can't relax with it because it keeps hinting that something will break through but ultimately just cloys somewhat.

The good news is that it makes a nice base with a strong citrus scent (Lime Basil Mandarin works without getting too weird) overlaid on it.
25th January, 2010

Lime, Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone

This was the scent that first woke me up to Jo Malone. It was love at first sniff. I was then too ignorant to know that you could get fragrances that were so unashamedly clean and focussed so uninhibitedly on the orchard and the herb garden. I was astounded at its bracing freshness and verve and worshipped its unaffected purity.

I find it very easy to wear. In our mediterranean climate it is refreshing in summer and nostalgic in winter. It lasts well enough for me but happily is also hard to overdo thanks to the way it settles into calm citrus and herb notes. (At the JM shop at LHR they use this to spritz onto the black tissue paper when they wrap your purchases. Not sure what that says about it... but I'm too in love to care.)

The lime is without doubt the leader of the band here and I have sought the mandarin in vain. That is until I sprayed this over JM's Sweet Lime & Cedar and, voila!, there is the mandarin and it keeps on coming through. Delightful!

I must confess that over the years I have occasionally entertained heretical thoughts that there may be a lack of depth to the fragrance. But now I sometimes layer it with heavier scents and that way it still keeps its fascination both solo and in combination.
25th January, 2010

Wild Fig and Cassis by Jo Malone

I adore the figgy-ness of this fragrance - it smells like you've just hugged a fig tree!

When I put it on I can't stop sniffing myself. Which is not such a good idea in the first 20 seconds or so as there is a strong acetone smell if you get too close. Luckily that quickly dies away completely and I'm left with gorgeous pure green fig - green and warm at the same time. Unluckily this too dies away and an hour later I can barely detect the fragrance at all. And where's the cassis? Yes, I get the sugary warmth but it doesn't resemble anything remotely like cassis to my nose. Maybe that's not a bad thing because I can just wallow in the figs without any distractions.

Despite the reservations, full marks for comprehensively capturing the fresh, green succulence of wild figs. If only it hung around I wouldn't be going through my (small) bottle at such an alarming rate.
24th January, 2010

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

I'm scared of this fragrance. It's like a very sexy but abusive lover: addictive and repulsive in equal measure. It is a terrible bully and whenever I wear it I feel overpowered by it. I worry that it is too strong and may offend those around me and so I'm selfconscious about it. And for once the amazing longevity is unwelcome - after a few hours I start to feel sick when I smell it on myself.

When I first tested it in a store I loved it. Enough to buy a bottle. Which I am using very slowly... just to prove I'm not a total wimp and also to enjoy the dazzling, spicy opening. I do tend to wash it off after a while though.
23rd March, 2009

L'Occitan by L'Occitane

I tend to like L'Occitane fragrances for their "naturalness" and the almost rustic charm of their products. So no suprise that I took to L'Occitan right away. But initially I was concerned that it is a bit one-dimensional after the initial burst of herbs and spices. That one dimension to me is cedar which I get very strongly on the dry-down and for hours after. But it is a gorgeous cedar and I don't tire of it - so it is presumably not nearly as simple as it appears. It is very "manly" in an old fashioned, back-of-my-father's-wardrobe kind of way. Which is good because it has reasonable sillage and I feel I don't have to worry about causing offense.
20th March, 2009