Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Merbert

Total Reviews: 42

Bois et Fruits by Serge Lutens

Before I get to a long-forgotten holiday fruitcake, Bois et Fruits inflicts clouds of rancid butter or ghee. Before it vanishes, there is a suggestion of an Arabie-soaked platter of dried figs, dates, apricots and raisins. Nasty!
01st September, 2010

Domenico Caraceni 1913 by Domenico Caraceni

There must be something wrong with me. All of the potentially beautiful frankincense, rose, cypress, citrus and amber are practically obliterated by a rasping "fingernails on the chalkboard" screech of cloves. Perhaps I got a mis-labeled sample.
21st August, 2010

Rose d'Homme by Les Parfums de Rosine

How exquisitely understated! To my nose it is constantly in motion, albeit at a gentle pace, traveling around and around - sweet powdery rose through soft dusty leather, then to a creamy woodiness, all the time never allowing the rose component to be fully released.

There's nothing earth-shattering nor is there any controversy with Rose d'Homme, but neither is it dull and uninteresting. I will consider a bottle.
20th August, 2010
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Rose 31 by Le Labo

I consider Rose 31 to definitely fit into the unisex role. It's assertive and somewhat exotic - dessicated rose petals from well-worn boutonniere resting in a cedar spice casket - one that has seen the passage of time. There is a slight hint of distant sweat and urine, but in a very pleasant and comfortable manner. Cue the Noel Coward on the gramophone, I'm ready for a foxtrot.
15th August, 2010

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

This one has become a summer favorite, a grassy, soapy citrus with what I sense as spearmint, agastache and green cardamom. It does take a liberal application for good sillage and longevity but it's worth it.
09th August, 2010

Labdanum 18 / Ciste 18 by Le Labo

I can cover this one in one word - "dainty". You can determine if you might like Labdanum 18/Ciste 18 by your association with the word.
05th August, 2010

Une Fleur de Cassie by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

On the Love/Hate Seesaw, I am definitely on the love side. As a fragrance gardener, I am drawn first to to the deceptively uninvolved jasmine and rose teaser, a bit like flowers at the garden gate, beckoning me to enter. Once inside, the reality of the garden presents itself full-force; and that includes the sweet/acrid foetid smell of rotting plants that have lived out their lives and are now re-entering the earth. An exquisite powdery mimosa acts in consort rather than sharp contrast to the foetid qualities of the cassie, completing the life cycle with its innocent sweetness. Like a good garden with foundation trees, a slightly aging sandalwood provides permanence and stability.

This one's definitely on my "to buy" list.
30th July, 2010

La Violette by Annick Goutal

What a strange drydown La Violette creates. The true violet blossom scent explodes upon application, only to nearly disappear within 15 minutes. At that point come olfactory mayhem, pitting odd greens, possibly vetiver, and clove with children's cough syrup. Once this settles, all that remains is piercing, penetrating fresh raspberry which continues for hours.
26th May, 2009

Sa Majesté la Rose by Serge Lutens

What is the matter with me? For 30 years I have grown Bourbon, Damask, and other roses in parfumerie and, from all the glowing reviews; I should love Sa Majesté la Rose. I immensely dislike it. I also enjoy dirty and animalic scents as well, and yet I still dislike it. And why is this? There is something that ruins the creation for me. Amidst the lovely rose petals and leaves, geranium, clove and the animalic notes, all classically combined, a cloying and almost gagging lychee/canned evaporated milk note comes and spoils the party.

This is the first Serge Lutens that is a scrubber for me.
25th May, 2009

Armani Mania for Women by Giorgio Armani

The attempt at mixed spices is valiant, but it is destroyed by a double dose of black currant and mismatched florals. I never experience any of the supposed base accords on the drydown except synthetic vanilla. If there are woods in Mania for Women, I can't find them.
24th May, 2009

Armani Code / Black Code by Giorgio Armani

Other than the nice tarragon/anise middle note, Armani Code is rather ordinary. There is an attempt a peppery opening but it is very synthetic feeling. The middle notes are fleeting, barely minutes, when tonka, tonka, and more tonka take over as the base, saved from being single-dimensional by the woodiness of guaic.
24th May, 2009

Pure Vetiver by Azzaro

If you disregard the name, and realize that it's dirt-cheap, it's a decent fragrance. Sure, it has a bit of a harsh beginning, but softens to a nice combination of grass, tea, galangal and, yes, a tiny touch of the Big V. I find that it lasts for many hours and, on fabric, for days.

Perhaps it might be a nice base for layering.
24th May, 2009

Scandal by Lanvin

Review of vintage extrait formulation:
The drydown and development of Scandal is an incredible journey.

It begins with peat-infused whiskey, indolic but not sweet florals and a bite of civet. A touch of spice, possibly clove or carnation begins soon thereafter, along with damp, fresh-cut orris. Then comes the leather, and I mean real leather, naturally tanned with plenty of animalic scent remaining. It's the assertive leather of of well-worn saddles and harnesses of the gentry, not delicate handbags and gloves. In fact, you are taken into the stable, with the introduction of grain, hay, damp and slightly sweaty hair, and even a touch of liniment in the form of what I think may be castoreum. There is also a bit of tobacco, not sweet, but slightly biting and tart.

This assertive leather stage softens and sweetens, going from stiff saddle leather to fine kidskin. The powdery orris intensifies and the florals return, albeit subtly, never getting in the way of the now-refined leather.

The final act is pure magic. The musk-heavy base pulls in a slightly astringent incense, complete with the burnt ashes in the censor. The leather becomes damp, mossy, and eventually gives way to costus, oakmoss, vetiver and more musk.

I know that the word 'masterpiece' is tossed about rather casually on Basenotes. I contend that Scandal is the real deal.
21st May, 2009
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Yendi by Roberto Capucci

Review of vintage eau de toilette:
Yendi is a wonderfully blended ultra-green floral, sparkling with gentle effervescience, a touch of metallic edge, and a soft powdery finish. In addition to the predominance of 'green' I detect hyacinth and possibly a hint of lily but don't know the formal notes. I'd categorize this as a carefree and refreshing scent.
13th May, 2009

Bois de Cédrat by Creed

This is a fine example of minimalism found more commonly in pre-1920s fragrances. The lemon note leans toward the exquisite fragrance of a Meyer lemon and smells fresh off the tree on a warm afternoon. I also sense the oil of citron as your fingernail pierces the fresh peel. The drydown brings in hints of fresh woods and a slight herbal finish, yet maintains the citrus up front.

05th May, 2009

Tabu by Dana

When I was a very young child, I detested Tabu. I also hated root beer and associated one with the other. It is now clear that, as a child, I knew nothing about drydown and that the scent of a perfume changes over time. So, 50 years later, I gave a fresh vintage bottle of Tabu a try. Sure enough, sickly sweet root beer scent hit me between the eyes, bringing a flashback to my youth, sneaking a sniff of the stuff on my aunt's dresser. There was also the smell of sour cat urine. I patiently waited for the drydown which seemed to take forever. After what seemed like over an hour, I was left with a hot and dirty Oriental that, I confess, isn't half bad. Would I buy it? No. Do I understand why it has remained on the shelves for so long? Most certainly.
28th April, 2009 (last edited: 18th August, 2010)

Parure by Guerlain

The transformation from initial application to drydown is dramatic. It starts with that classic Guerlain mystery and brooding found in Mitsouko with the addition of what is referred to as plum (I'm not sure of this fruit note) and bergamot. Oakmoss becomes predominant joined with dark rose, wood, spices and incense. Unfortunately, on my skin the oakmoss fades and Parure becomes a fairly innocuous woody Oriental. I did discover that my clothes retain the dark Guerlain mystery and oakmoss 10 hours after application. Because of this, Parure has become a "handkerchief fragrance" for me.
26th April, 2009

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

This is a review of the parfum.
There is no other parfum that reduces me to the inability to form complete sentences.

Long, sharp shadows
Mounds of soft moss
Damp stones under dark clouds
Cool, yet inviting flesh
Freshly dug orris, still damp with earth
A dark glance beneath a darker lace veil
Tart threads still attached to a fresh peach seed
Mezmerizing smoke curling from kyara

...words fail me further when my husband wears it!

22nd April, 2009

Cristalle Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Cristalle is a brighter, cleaner Diorella in many respects. The aldehyde burst lets free a lovely green floral that reminds me most of the Freesia alba, not those ultra-sweet modern freesias in electric colors, but the humble ivory and green blossom that to me is the ultimate green floral note. Both are assertive, but playful. There is a hint of lemon, but definitely not your Lemon Pledge variety. Cristalle's delightful chypre is only slightly metallic and has some richness that I can't put into words. This note stays around the longest, relatively unmodified until it eventually fades away.

After many years away from this fragrance (it was one of my regulars), I tried it again yesterday. In my opinion it has withstood the test of time very well and I'm considering a bottle for old time's sake. Perhaps it's a fragrance more suited to someone young, but smelling it made me feel awfully young at heart.
22nd April, 2009

Galanos by Galanos

I had weird flashbacks of opening my mother's handkerchief drawer as a young child in the 1950s. There's something about the way that the oakmoss and tonka are choked by a mishmash of spices and florals suggests one of the things that sometimes didn't go well during that era of perfume development. Also, I swear that I smell musty old bay leaves somewhere during the drydown. To me, it's a little like Youth Dew gone wrong.
16th April, 2009

Osmanthus by Ormonde Jayne

To me, this is one of the worst fragrances I've tested in a long time. It bears absolutely no resemblance to osmanthus. Where is the rich yet fresh, pure yet erotic nature of the real flower? It smells more like a Glade plug-in air freshener. Instead of capturing the bright slightly unripe apricot note of osmanthus, I smell cheap synthetic fruit salad which produces a very unsettling feeling. Even the in-your-face indoles can't save this one.
09th April, 2009

Joy by Jean Patou

Review based upon the vintage pafum.
I second Vibert's feelings of Joy's reminiscence of Amouage Gold for Men to be spot on. Unlike the Amouage, the powder, indoles and civet are flawlessly balanced. And what a glorious presentation of civet it is!

After the aldehydes fade, a rich and almost chewy floral bouquet blooms. I don't feel that the rose is as up-front as some people, but sense more Italian and Spanish jasmines, tuberose, and the sweetness of Michelia champaca. Rose is present, but not predominating. Also present is that sweet comfort of sandalwood the way it used to smell, not the biting skanky scent that is passed as sandalwood these days.

You would think that such heady scents as jasmine, tuberose and champaca would eradicate the opening civet, yet it remains until the end.

Joy is a confident woman, subtly sensual, and always romantic.
05th April, 2009

Violetta di Parma by Borsari

This used to be a regular fragrance for me about 25 years ago when I was going through my "violet phase". I've grown the petite violetta di Parma and the Borsari does something quite interesting; it makes no attempt to replicate the isolated scent of the bloom. It instead captures the plant in its native environment, shady, damp, green and earthy. It also bursts forth upon application much as the violet does at the end of winter, calmly defiant of the cold. There must be orris root in it which adds a lovely powdery drydown. For those looking for a violet blossom fragrance, Violette di Parma is not a good match. But for a more earthy and green experience with a hint of blossom, this relatively inexpensive perfume is a lovely choice.
05th April, 2009

Loukhoum by Ava Luxe

I have tried several Rahat Loukhoum based fragrances and find the Ava Luxe the most wearable of those commonly available in the US without coming across as a dessert cart. Almond is balanced nicely with pistachio. Honey, which can be so cloying, is brightened with rosewater. There is a sharp burnt sugar that may be confused with hazelnut which brings out musk on the drydown.
28th March, 2009

Sandringham by Crown Perfumery

Dirty doings in the library! Has our gent brought in a lady of questionable background? To me, Sandringham is like a member of the upper crust slumming in his own heavily wood-paneled manor. This is most bitter of all the Crowns, topping Eau de Quinine or even the face-slapping Esterhazy. Do I detect quinine amidst the herbs and wood? There is definitely a non-citrus bitter component that performs a great balancing act with the sweetness.

I love to occasionally wear Sandringham for a bit of shock value. On a woman, it's twice as in-your-face as on a man.
27th March, 2009

Jubilation XXV by Amouage

This is a frankincense foundationed fragrance for men who are unafraid to wear florals. I think that it's the sweetest Duchaufour that I have smelled so far and, after about a month getting to know it, I can appreciate the sweetness. I found my appeal for Jubilation XXV like a courtship, that develops understanding and appreciation over time.

On initial application, there is a sharp presentation of incense blended with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, mace, and a touch of oud (not quite enough for my taste.) I do like the way that the fragrance develops over time, becoming darker and more mysterious, but also much warmer. This is when the floral aspect deepens and it is a welcome addition, not clashing in any way. I smell orris and even a little violet. By the time it has completely dried down, it's practically crackling dry, a sort of incense-leather-musky combination, still maintaining the floral sweetening.

On my skin, a healthy spraying of Jubilation XXV lasts all day or all night, fading gradually and beautifully.

Thank you, Amouage, for returning to the classics again. I considered Ciel, Cirrus, Arcus and Reflection for Men and Women to be uninteresting and conventional.
22nd March, 2009

Jubilation 25 by Amouage

I find this and Jubilation XXV for Men my favorite of the Amouage line do date (though I am "courting" Lyric for Women at this time and enjoying it.) XXV for women is a Middle Eastern concept fragrance for Western tastes. Citrus/possibly citron, Bulgarian rose, frankincense and myrrh are up front with a wide assortment of secondary scents that I think that I can identify as tarragon, amber (not quite enough for my taste), a healthy shot of patchouli, musk, with the whole sweetened by what I suspect is ylang ylang.

To me, however, the fragrance has problems. One is a pervasive fruit note that simply won't go away. It is very distracting from the rest of the scent, almost cheapening it. The other is that the bright and wonderful initial blast of resins fades far too quickly. What remains is nice in a conventional sort of way, but not what I expected after trying Jubilation XXV for Men; that's more like the early classic Amouage.

22nd March, 2009

Crown Ess Bouquet by Crown Perfumery

Crown Ess Bouquet is crisp starched linen and modestly coiffed hair. Its slightly bitter herbal components of lavender, basil and thyme work well with bright citrus. Alone, this would be simplistic but Crown introduces powdery orris and what my nose senses as eglantine rose and possibly something animalic like musk.

It is definitely a confident, no-nonsense fragrance with a very Edwardian sensibility.
30th January, 2009

Musk by Lorenzo Villoresi

If you enjoy powdery rose scents and remove the word 'Musk' from the mix, you may really enjoy this fragrance. It is definitely an ultra-feminine floral and a good one. For those who have dreamed of owning Crown Perfumery's Marechale Original, this is a somewhat cheapened distant relative. The rose component dressed in rich cardamom and galbanum receives a sparkling from something I can't identify. On the drydown, the most lovely powder emerges from soft samdal and musk.

The house of Lorenzo Villoresi has really created a beautifully romantic and aristocratic 18th Century feel with Musk, a time of heavy brocades and velvets, powdered gloves, and gardens of deeply scented roses.
21st July, 2008

Hamptons by Bond No. 9

I think Hamptons should be renamed "Eau de Dirty Comb". This vile juice is a dead ringer for a dirty comb or a dandruff-ridden scalp coated with cheap shampoo residue. It is completely dissimilar to Creed Silver Mountain Water save for the rapidity of its fade.

Fortunately this vile concoction washes off easily.
10th July, 2008