Reviews by Asha

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    Asha
    United States United States

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    Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Dzonkha

    Notes: Lichee, Cardamom, Peony, Iris, Tea Leaves, Incense (from luckyscent.com)

    For a supposed spiced incense and tea fragrance Dzonkha starts incredibly boozy--like a single malt scotch with dry woods and peaty smoke. The opening accord is intoxicating but short lived, and gives way to the cardamom and tea that I expected from the beginning. Soon after, the tea accord evokes a leathery quality, and combined with cardamom, woody notes and some smoke gives the impression of a dry leather chypre such as the classic Estee Lauder Azuree. Peeking out within the mid notes is an unexpected dose of pepper which carries the spice impression as the cardamom fades. The drydown is spicy, aromatic and slightly sweet with hints of unburned incense resin--at this stage, the leather quality persists along with the pepper. Dzonkha is a very enjoyable ecclectic fragrance, more dry and understated than the equally boozy, leathery, tea-tinged Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe. Dzonkha is slightly formal in its leather character, but as easy to wear as a well-loved pair of jeans.

    15 May, 2010

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    Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Timbuktu

    Notes: green mango, pink pepper berries, cardamom, karo karounde flower, smokey incense of papyrus wood, patchouli, myrrh, vetiver (from luckyscent.com)

    I am not fond of the fenugreek opening notes that are reminiscent of Parfum d'Empire Fougere Bengal, ie, an edible curry. However, after the opening accord settles down, I must admit that Timbuktu is one of the best woody-incense fougeres I have experienced. The herbal accord is understated, only a tad medicinal and primarily aromatic, with a freshness that contributes a tinge of brightness without making me feel as though my nostrils have been scrubbed by a wire brush (as many contemporary fougeres have a tendency to do). The woody notes are difficult to place, and have a sweet creaminess not unlike sandalwood. The incense notes add a luxurious richness without being heavy or cloying. Wood, incense, smoky green vetiver and some soapiness define the drydown, although the herbal accord still lingers in faded form. Overall, Timbuktu is an amazingly well-crafted composition, and I would not hesitate to recommend this to anybody who is looking for a balanced, modern interpretation of a classic fougere.

    15 May, 2010

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    Vanilia by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Vanilia and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Fleur de Comores Comparison Review

    Vanilia Notes: ylang ylang, vanilla bean, amber and sandalwood (from www.nstperfume.com, NowSmellThis)
    Fleur de Comores Notes: blackcurrant, passionfruit, leafy green, vanilla, orange blossom, jasmine, ambegris, vetiver, musk (from luckyscent.com)

    I have been wanting to compare L'Artisan Vanilia and MPG Fleur de Comores ever since I read in the guide that they were both composed by the same perfumer (Laporte), FdC being a sort of "Vanilia II" which was created after Laporte left L'Artisan.

    Vanilia starts sweet, woody and balsamic. As the top notes burn off, a hint of incense lends a smoky metallic tang and the fragrance becomes increasingly powdery. Vanilia stays in this stage for quite a long time, its subtlety keeping it from becoming cloying despite being linear. The drydown is a pretty vanilla-prominent amber with a little tonka bite and smoky woods.

    Fleur de Comores' opening notes are massively boozy, with fermented overripe passionfruit (which seems to be a blend of apricot and cherry not unlike "Hawaiin Punch" fruit drink) and sharp, almost urinous blackcurrant bud. FdC develops more slowly than Vanilia, but eventually starts to turn more powdery as well, with indolic florals coming forward as the fruity top accord fades. The florals eventually settle on a base of woody, smoky green (vetiver).

    Overall, I find FdC to be slightly more sophisticated and complex, and I find Vanilia more charming and easy to wear. In my book, this is one contest where simplicity wins--Vanilia is one of those fragrances that is so pleasant that it is adaptable to many occasions and age groups.

    I suppose I can understand a kinship between these two. Both are what I would classify as relaxing, unpretentious fragrances evocative of summer holidays. However, looking at the bigger picture, if I were to name a successor to Vanilia, it would probably be L'Artisan Havana Vanille which takes the same idea more towards woods, resins and raisiny tobacco. Regardless, both Vanilia and FdC are worthy of sampling.

    09 May, 2010

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    Fleurs des Comores by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

    L'Artisan Vanilia and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Fleur de Comores Comparison Review

    Vanilia Notes: ylang ylang, vanilla bean, amber and sandalwood (from www.nstperfume.com, NowSmellThis)
    Fleur de Comores Notes: blackcurrant, passionfruit, leafy green, vanilla, orange blossom, jasmine, ambegris, vetiver, musk (from luckyscent.com)

    I have been wanting to compare L'Artisan Vanilia and MPG Fleur de Comores ever since I read in the guide that they were both composed by the same perfumer (Laporte), FdC being a sort of "Vanilia II" which was created after Laporte left L'Artisan.

    Vanilia starts sweet, woody and balsamic. As the top notes burn off, a hint of incense lends a smoky metallic tang and the fragrance becomes increasingly powdery. Vanilia stays in this stage for quite a long time, its subtlety keeping it from becoming cloying despite being linear. The drydown is a pretty vanilla-prominent amber with a little tonka bite and smoky woods.

    Fleur de Comores' opening notes are massively boozy, with fermented overripe passionfruit (which seems to be a blend of apricot and cherry not unlike "Hawaiin Punch" fruit drink) and sharp, almost urinous blackcurrant bud. FdC develops more slowly than Vanilia, but eventually starts to turn more powdery as well, with indolic florals coming forward as the fruity top accord fades. The florals eventually settle on a base of woody, smoky green (vetiver).

    Overall, I find FdC to be slightly more sophisticated and complex, and I find Vanilia more charming and easy to wear. In my book, this is one contest where simplicity wins--Vanilia is one of those fragrances that is so pleasant that it is adaptable to many occasions and age groups.

    I suppose I can understand a kinship between these two. Both are what I would classify as relaxing, unpretentious fragrances evocative of summer holidays. However, looking at the bigger picture, if I were to name a successor to Vanilia, it would probably be L'Artisan Havana Vanille which takes the same idea more towards woods, resins and raisiny tobacco. Regardless, both Vanilia and FdC are worthy of sampling.

    09 May, 2010

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    Tubéreuse by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Tubereuse

    Perhaps I am the wrong person to write reviews for tuberose-centric fragrances as it is not my favorite floral category. But I do think I know when I smell a good thing, and L'Artisan's Tubereuse is really not one of them. To be fair, It opens with a really huge tuberose note that is quite nice as it evokes a fleshy, larger-than-life exotic flower with hints of bubblegum and a lemony-woody quality. All too soon it transitions into a chemical-smelling generic white floral with a jarring fecal edge and some soapy white musk. Subtlety is definitely not the theme here. In fact, I am wearing Piguet Fracas (newest formulation) for comparison. Where Fracas is full, creamy, sophisticated and symphonic, Tubereuse is loud, harsh, screechy and thin. Fracas is beautiful and graceful. Tubereuse is a maladroit caricature. It is probably worth sampling, but I suspect most tuberose lovers will go elsewhere for their tuberose fix.

    08 May, 2010

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    Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Dzing!

    Notes: Rose, Orris, Daffodil, Ginger, Cinnamom, Saffron, Castoreum, Peru Balsam, Benzoin, Musk (from osmoz.com)

    I have been sampling Dzing! for some time now, and every time I smell it, I marvel at its unique character. I didn't really understand this fragrance at first. Antiseptic? Wood? Hay and Manure? Dzing! really lives up to its animal cage reputation. in fact, its purported leather accord didn't register immediately. One day after trying Dzing! for the first time, I was in a public place, mostly around people who did not wear fragrance. I started to smell Dzing! and looked around to see if I could determine where the scent was coming from. I soon had my answer--it was emanating from the leather jacket of the man sitting next to me. Yup. Dzing! smells pretty much exactly like a handsome man's buttery soft brown leather bomber jacket, partially infused with whatever musky cologne is his signature scent.

    Although castoreum is listed as a base note, it comes forth quite strongly in the early development of Dzing!, and stays strong for hours. Other fragrances I've tried which carry an equally strong castoreum dosage are Mazzolari Lui (an animalic amber-patchouli) and Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan (a leathery, waxy, floral musk). To me, castoreum tends to be sweet, and in Dzing! it is made more so with tonka/vanilla and resins. It is not overpoweringly so, however--a bit of powdery iris adds some dryness, and musk adds softness. Dzing! separates itself from Lui and MKK by being primarily a leather scent with a de-emphasis on the heavy oriental qualities that are innate to Lui and MKK. The musk, woods and resins in Dzing!'s base are sheer and finely balanced. It makes an excellent daily wear scent for leather lovers, and is one of the most interesting casual leather scents I have tried--highly recommended!

    29 April, 2010

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    Drôle de Rose by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Drole de Rose

    Notes: rose, aniseed, orange blossom, white iris, violet, almond, honey, leather (from luckyscent.com)

    What a beautiful composition Drole de Rose is! It starts with a soft, dry green accord, along with a dusty and tart rose that seems mild and daring at the same time. The violet note, a somewhat odd character which is both leafy and aromatic, helps create a classic rose sensibility, and paired with some iris, is powdery enough to evoke the smell of makeup bag or lipstick without being musty. Later in the development, the rose in DdR gives an almost candied impression, as if it were preserved in confectioner's sugar and ground rose hips. The tendency is somewhat toward rose jam, but more in the direction of a dried rose-scented fruit. The fruitiness stays in check with a vaguely medicinal leather note which keeps the fragrance balanced. In the late drydown, a slightly sugary amber accord persists. Drole de Rose reminds me of the novel ways in which vintage clothing is worn by people of a younger age group--when such things are given a new context, we can regard them in ways we never imagined before. That is how I feel when I smell Drole de Rose--like I am experiencing "new vintage".

    28 April, 2010

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    Piment Brûlant by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Piment Brulant

    Notes: red pepper, soft and creamy chocolate, vanilla, cloves and poppy, hints of musk and amber (from luckyscent.com)

    I had a good laugh reading comments on BN and elsewhere regarding Piment Brulent. With nary a reservation, I splashed some on, expecting to be in bell pepper and tomato stem hell for about an hour or two. As it turns out, to my nose PB starts as a beautiful bitter green, herbal, medicinal leather with a waxy note reminiscent of shoe polish. I adore green leather chypres such as Estee Lauder Azuree or Aramis, so I was quite excited that I might have found a new twist on this classic style. The opening notes of PB are captivating in the same way I would expect when looking in a fun house mirror--most of the recognizable chypre facets are there, but scrambled and distorted in a fun and interesting way. Unfortunately, the top accord is mercilessly short lived, lasting maybe 1-1.5 hours, at which point a soapy white musk starts to take over. What a let down. Later, when the musk fades, all that is left is some pepper piquancy, a very soft, nondescript amber and a little bit of sheer wood. This one might be a candidate for layering, however, for the price, it can hardly be justified.

    28 April, 2010

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    Jour de Fête by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Jour de Fete

    Notes: Almond, pink laurel, wheat, orris, bourbon vanilla, cedarwood (from luckyscent.com)

    I remember trying Jour de Fete a couple years ago and not being impressed. Reviews on BN and other online sources gave mostly mediocre or negative reviews, with complaints of the fragrance being too simple, and with no projection or longevity. I can't say I disagree with the main issues. However, having revisited the fragrance again today, I find that JdF is a diaphanous, doughy, slightly sweet and powdery fragrance which is soothing in a way that most other so-called "comfort scents" can't achieve. Jour de Fete reminds me of shimmery body products which, having given the skin a bit of sheen, somehow accentuate the bare loveliness beneath. Notes of almond, cherry-vanilla and crisp, almost green "raw bread" are the openers. The top accord fades quickly, giving way to a transparent vanilla, soft wood and perhaps a touch of tonka or opoponax. This is definitely a fragrance for the quieter moments in life, is unisex and also wearable for almost any age.

    27 April, 2010

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    Premier Figuier Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme

    Notes: fig, fig leaf, milk of almond, sandalwood, coconut (from luckyscent.com)

    Observation #1: Premier Figuier Extreme is one of the better constructed fig scents on the market, with bitter green leaf and stem notes balanced in combination with fresh, sweet fig fruit, a touch of coconut and sheer woods. The opening is magnificent, reminiscent of a mediterranean garden in summer.

    Observation #2: If you don't like the smell of figs or Iso E Super, then seek elsewhere. The linearity of PFE is nauseating after the first 2 hours, and the Iso E is scantily supported in the base. It really wears thin after an all day outing.

    27 April, 2010

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    Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain

    Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille

    Notes: vanilla, benzoin, frankincense, spices, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and ylang-ylang (from theperfumedcourt.com)

    Today has been full of surprises. I expected Spiritueuse Double Vanille to be the epitome of vanilla fragrances. I mean, coming from Guerlain, the house that carved its niche in the perfume world by making beautiful vanilla-laden compositions, I presume that they know something about how to use vanilla. I am sorry to say that SDV is quite dire. After wearing Jicky and Shalimar for days on end, I have come to love the vanilla version of Guerlinade. SDV does not have it. It is raw, almost vanilla extract-like, with "perfumy" floral and powder notes that sit on the surface and never become integrated. SDV doesn't really develop, let alone reach the stature of a composition such as Shalimar. It simply stays rough and jarring, with notes of sawdust and fake, bitter florals rather than the lovely balsamic and boozy cask woods I wanted. There is even an almost hamster-cage like quality to the woody accord which is rather distasteful. I can't see why anybody would prefer this over one of Guerlain's own classics. Incidentally, SDV smells better on paper than on skin...strange.

    05 December, 2009

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    Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

    Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

    Notes: Spicy Note, Aromatic Note, Tobacco, Tonka Bean, Tobacco Leaf, Tobacco Flower, Vanilla, Cocoa, Dried Fruit, Sap (from osmoz.com)

    I was prepared to dislike Tobacco Vanille. It has received so much hype in the online communities, and is so brashly marketed, I honestly thought that nothing could live up to TV's reputation. Well, I am eating my words now, almost literally, as TV is an extremely well-done gourmand fragrance. On first spray, it has a lovely spiced cookie dough effect, with a combination of spices that seems a bit like the blend normally used for gingerbread, i.e., ginger, cinnamon, clove and allspice. Sweetening up this accord is a good quality vanilla which shies away from what would typically be found in a kitchen, and smells much more complex, woody, boozy and a little bit powdery. Woods and resins, also make TV a bit less edible, and are welcome additions to the vanilla and spice. The strangest thing, though, is that I really do not smell any tobacco. Vanilla by itself often has a bit of a tobacco quality, so it is not really such a stretch. Even though high quality tobacco is aged with botanicals, or treated with flavor chemicals, I definitely do not get a flavored tobacco impression from TV. For me, it sits squarely into the "kitchen aroma after you've cooked something both sweet and savory" category. The drydown is a bit less foody, and is really just a vanilla-heavy, labdanum-based amber, less alluring than Tom Ford's own Amber Absolute, but still extremely fetching. I am not sure this would be full bottle worthy, because the fragrance is actually quite one dimensional and linear. However, TV is a single-idea fragrance that is so deep and wide that a person can spend a lot of time contemplating it.

    05 December, 2009

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    Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

    Tom Ford Grey Vetiver

    Notes: vetiver, grapefruit, nutmeg, orris, orange blossom, aromatic sage, pimiento, amber woods and oak moss (from NowSmellThis.com)

    The notes I smell most in Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver are vetiver, mixed citrus which may include grapefruit, bergamot and lemon, vague and nondescript woody notes, and a herbal accord which is reminiscent of rosemary and lavender. There is a slight plasticky note in the mid-development which reminds me of the creamy floral accord from Tom Ford's White Patchouli. In the context of Grey Vetiver, it gives a bit of sweetness and roundness to an otherwise rather dry and astringent composition. The vetiver is of good quality--it starts nutty and ends smoky and dry. The vetiver is much more subdued in GV than it is in vetiver powerhouses such as Lalique Encre Noir, although it is obviously vetiver from a similar source as EN. Later in the mid development, as the vetiver is transforming, there is a stage where the combination of vetiver with the creamy floral and herbal accord is quite pleasing--it is refreshing and uplifting without being heavy or harsh. Late in the development, the early creamy floral transforms into the same soft woody accord from White Patchouli, but this time is overlaid with smoky vetiver, very faint mossy notes, a masculine musk and persistent herbs. This would be an excellent alternative to lighter vetiver scents such as Guerlain Vetiver or Comme des Garcons Vettiveru. Gray Vetiver seems modern but not edgy, longevity and sillage are moderate--a great all-around masculine fragrance, and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

    04 December, 2009

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    Black Angel by Mark Buxton

    Mark Buxton Black Angel

    Notes: citrus, bergamot, mandarin, orange, rosemary, ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, jasmine, lily of the valley, orris, styrax, guaiac, patchouli (from luckyscent.com)

    Mark Buxton certainly knows how to assign evocative names to his fragrances. So far, despite the sex-appeal of the images he creates, I have found the juice itself to be solidly composed, with homage to classic fragrance structures. Black Angel is one that does not quite fit this mold, although I still do not find it terribly ground-breaking. It is very modern, with ginger, tea, bergamot and mixed citruses in the top notes. The effect is somehow very green, despite the strong fruitiness of the orange and accompanying citrus notes. The middle development is slightly leathery with mixed white florals, iris root and some sweet, powdery, vanillic amber. I was all set for a perfect finish, but the base turned out to be a let-down. It is primarily composed of Iso E Super and some other vague woody, smoky incense notes. Although Black Angel bears very little resemblance to something like Bulgari Black, both these fragrances firmly fall into the vanilla-woods, modern oriental model. Try Black Angel as a nice, though not ground-breaking, alternative within this fragrance family.

    04 December, 2009

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    Around Midnight by Mark Buxton

    Mark Buxton Around Midnight

    Notes: pepper, geranium, chamomile, jasmine, patchouli, ciste, wood (from luckyscent.com)

    When I first sprayed Around Midnight, I thought, "Hmm, fougere, no wait, oriental. No no, it is chypre. I have I had these thoughts before, but when? Ah, I remember now...." Somehow, either by design or by accident, Mark Buxton has backed into a variation on Guerlain's Heritage. AM starts very herbal and vegetal, not overly green, but somewhat medicinal (check). Then when the herbs start to subside, touches of dry, herbaceous leather start to emerge (check). Finally, the base is an inviting, aromatic, sweet amber and vanilla accord with a dash of pepper and spice (check). What a relief--now I can confidently declare that AM is a modern take on a classic fragrance! Perhaps it is an unfortunate comparison considering Heritage's, um, heritage. On the plus side, AM would be great for anybody who finds Heritage too dated or "mature", or for those who like Iso E Super. Ultimately, Around Midnight is a confident and well-rounded composition, but sadly, it does not quite measure up.

    29 November, 2009

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    Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus by Guerlain

    Guerlain Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus EDP

    One thing is definite--Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus smells irrevocably like a tweaked variation of the original Mitsouko. It has lemon and bergamot top notes, nutty vetiver, light peach, medicinal herb notes, and a faintly amber-ish base. When I smell the two side-by-side, they are unmistakably related, at least in the early stages. After the initial development, MFdL starts to diverge from its namesake, becoming more soapy, watery and "clean", while Mitsouko continues to be heavier, maintaining the slightly grubby moss tinge that most of us know and love. In the late drydown, there are whisps of faint leather, light vanilla and white musk. I was prepared to intensely dislike MFdL, especially given that other "light and fresh" flankers such as Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte and Guerlain's own Eau de Shalimar fell terribly short of the mark for me. In fact, I really like Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus! I sometimes find the original to be difficult to wear, and MFdL softens the angular and abrasive features of Mitsouko into a somewhat sweet, airy, but still quite sincere and serious composition. Unfortunately, sillage and longevity are abysmal, even for what is advertised to be EDP strength. Regardless, I'd love to wear this lavishly in the warmer months.

    29 November, 2009

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    Patchouli 24 by Le Labo

    Le Labo Patchouli 24

    Notes: Patchouli, birch tar, styrax, and vanilla (from luckyscent.com)

    For most Le Labo creations, the names do not reflect the true impression of the scent, and Patchouli 24 is no exception. Patchouli is clearly present in P24, but unlike most patch scents that have "Patchouli" in the name, the patch note is not the singular star. What P24 is...it is a smoky, woody, incensy, ambery, leather oriental, and it is unlike other scents which have similar descriptions (eg, Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe or Mazzolari Lui). At the start, birch tar is the most prominent note, and it is heavily smoky, similar to what one might experience when smelling the charcoal remains of yesterday's campfire. At first the smoke eclipses most of the other notes, and for this reason, I wasn't sure it would develop very well. However, the wait was worthwhile, and I was rewarded with the other notes which added a lovely complexity without making the fragrance fussy: balsamic vanilla with woody, leathery, and tobacco qualities; warm, incensy, resinous labdanum; and a slightly herbal benzoin or sweet gum. Patchouli 24 is a unisex fragrance, but trends toward the masculine side with its smoke and leather. Even as a masculine, though, P24 keeps an excellent balance, and does not become overly vanillic--the amber base in P24 is subdued and dusty rather than rich and sweet. The fragrance is worthy of a sample, especially for amber lovers.

    29 November, 2009

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    Brigitte by Tocca

    Tocca Brigitte

    Notes: papaya, ginger, rhubarb, Moroccan rose, iris, saffron, sandalwood, musk, Pannetone accord (gourmand notes) (from luckyscent.com)

    I have fruit compote on my mind right now. I'd love to dive into a warm bowl of vanilla-sweetened apples and rhubarb, spiced with cinnamon and ginger, with a perfect flaky-doughy crust and real whipped cream. I can almost get there with Brigitte, and although this fragrance is not overly foody, I still get the impression of warmth that I would from a comforting dessert. Brigitte is one to try for spice lovers as its peppery ginger and medicinal saffron keep the vanilla powder notes from turning too sweet. At the same time, the creamy wood base helps maintain a softness that is belied by the sharper notes. Overall this is an interesting composition--charming, unpretentious and unique enough to distinguish it from the legions of feminine designer scents. Brigitte is a smart girl, but one who is unapologetically feminine.

    22 November, 2009

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    Iris 39 by Le Labo

    Le Labo Iris 39

    Notes: Iris, lime, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, musk, violet, ginger, cardamom, and civet (from luckyscent.com)

    Iris 39 is a very green fragrance, and starts with carroty iris, ample amounts of violet leaf and a smoky wood note that smells very much like the burning plastic I detected in Rose 31. The burning plastic (birch tar?) is subdued in Iris 39, although it is a bit off-putting. When it fades, the fragrance takes on a leathery feel, much as Rose 31 did, but Iris 39 arrives at this stage much more quickly. Overall, the impression Iris 39 gives is dirty and rooty, like the plant matter on a forest floor. As such, there is a paradoxical combination of dry and sweet, of living greenery existing next to rotting compost. Later in the development, after the leather stage and into the dry down, some very ripe, fecal civet comes forth. Then in the late stages, the fragrance fades out on a cloud of sweet musk intertwined with vestiges of the civet. I find the composition to be compelling enough for me to want to sample it again, but not enough for me to want to own it. I love green, iris, violet, and most things Iris 39 has to offer. However, the composition just doesn't sing for me the way other iris scents do. And it certainly can't outdo the leathery green goodness that is Chanel No.19.

    22 November, 2009

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    Iris Ganache by Guerlain

    Guerlain Iris Ganache

    Notes: iris butter, white chocolate, floral notes, cinnamon, bergamot, patchouli, white musks, cedar, ambery vanilla note (from nstperfume.com)

    Everybody's doing iris-themed fragrances it seems. I guess it is no longer good enough to use this amazing material as just another ingredient. It now must be advertised prominently, perhaps to cash in on iris' considerable luxe equity. Iris Ganache seems to be one of those that pushes iris for its own sake rather than truly incorporating it into a well-thought composition. Imagine if you took the strawberry-patchouli of Miss Dior Cherie, sweetened it with a bit more chocolate, and then dumped a bunch of orris butter in. It is obvious that the ingredients of IG are top notch, and I think I could get used to the first 20 minutes as it is quite funky and unlike most iris fragrances I have smelled. Sadly the good part doesn't last. Eventually, there is an extreme discordant effect that comes from the bubbly feminine gourmand components and the cool, rooty iris which verges on a carrot encrusted with dirt. Later, when the fragrance settles down, IG smells like a higher quality, more wearable Miss Dior Cherie. Iris Ganache is one for iris-lovers or gourmand fans to test, but don't expect it to outperform anything by Chanel or the archetypal gourmand powerhouses.

    21st November, 2009

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    Rose 31 by Le Labo

    Le Labo Rose 31

    Notes: Grasse rose, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, olibanum, cedar, amber, gaiac wood, oud, cistus, vetiver and animalic notes (from luckyscent.com)

    Rose 31 smells of rose for a split second after spraying, and then descends almost immediately into a weird smoky floral note that is basically like burning plastic. I am not sure I can get past the petrochemical resin effect, but when I try, I do smell some fresh rose, tar, cumin, woods and a bitter powder note. More than an hour after application, the plastic accord settles down a bit, although there is still a tarry edge that is headache inducing. The rose is more apparent at this point, though, and overall R31 seems a tad more balanced than at the start. However, the smoky woody notes mostly mask the rose rather than supporting it or forming a synergistic blend. The deep drydown is actually quite nice--a leathery rose with the smoke, incense and woods persisting, but much more attenuated. To bad it took so long to get here. For the most part, it is almost as if the rose is an afterthought, added to take the campfire edge off. Or, perhaps somebody slipped up and put ten times the prescribed amount of synthetic oud into the vat. Apologies to fans of this fragrance, but I really don't see what all the fuss is about. I find it nearly unwearable for the first four to five hours.

    21st November, 2009

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    Fleur d'Oranger 27 by Le Labo

    Le Labo Fleur d'Oranger 27

    Notes: bergamot, petitgrain, grapefruit, amber, musk and vetiver (from luckyscent.com)

    I'm not sure what I am supposed to be smelling, but it is not orange flower, nor is it neroli. Fleur d'Oranger 27 starts bright and green, with bitter and sour citrus fruits (bergamot, and maybe a little grapefruit), some woody, herbal notes (petitgrain, lavender) and mint. It seems harmless at first. However, when the citrus and lavender fade, I am left with a sweetened, somewhat wintergreen-like menthol fragrance that smells like toilet bowl cleaner. It is too bad that household goods now have this scent association. On the other hand, the mint is really one-dimensional and not terribly compelling. If this were stronger and long-lived, Fleur d'Oranger 27 would be intolerable.

    21st November, 2009

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    Paestum Rose by Eau d'Italie

    Eau d'Italie Paestum Rose

    Notes: Davana, cinnamon, pink and rose pepper, coriander, blackcurrant buds, osmanthus, peony, Turkish rose, tea, elemi, incense, myrrh, opoponax, cedarwood, papyrus, patchouli, wenge, vetiver, musk, benzoin (from luckyscent.com)

    Paestum Rose is a beautifully refined fragrance, a light but mellow rose deepened with incense and gentle woods which give the impression of sandalwood. Accords with these three components are truly beloved to me, and without any expectations, I was immediately drawn into this incredibly enjoyable fragrance. Like a little black dress, the rose, sandalwood and incense combination seems to be mutable into almost any form without losing its basic underlying structure. In the case of PR, the wood and incense dominate but also fuse with the rose, resulting in a rose-centric scent that is not a rose soliflore. Overall, PR is rather transparent and diffuse despite the typically dense ingredients in the published notes. I find it difficult to use words to describe how I feel when I experience PR. Suffice it to say that it is a fragrance that can have a transcendent effect. For a fragrance to go beyond simple ingredients, as Paestum Rose does, makes it special indeed.

    21st November, 2009

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    Hot Leather by Mark Buxton

    Notes: citrus, bergamot, coriander, mandarin, orris, jasmine, patchouli, cedarwood and vanilla (from luckyscent.com)

    When I smelled this on paper last week, it seemed that Hot Leather was mostly about "leather" and not very much about "hot". The leather notes seemed artificial, like tanning compounds rather than the rich, smoky effect that birch tar lends or the animalic edge that castorium can give. As such, Hot Leather seems much more clean than classic leather compositions such as Chanel Cuir de Russie. Fast forward to today--I am trying Hot Leather on skin, and it is quite different when it melds with my chemistry. HL still has the clean and chemical leather note I smelled before. However, in wearing it, HL seems much more complex, with soft mixed florals, vanilla powder and a rooty iris. In fact, Hot Leather STILL is not "hot", is really not all that "leathery", but it definitely is pretty. The combination of iris and leather is tried and true, and the proportions in HL are quite nice. Now the reality...Hot Leather is sort of like a more feminine Dior Homme and is without the "lipstick" note. Or, if you prefer, it is a bit like a blend between Dior Homme and Prada Infusion d'Iris, replete with an artificial woody base (probably Iso E Super). Hot Leather is more powdery than Dior Homme and less soapy than Infusion d'Iris. I suppose for any who thought Dior Homme or Infusion d'Iris didn't quite satisfy, Buxton's Hot Leather may be the one that hits the sweet spot. For me, it makes me appreciate Dior Homme even more than I did before.

    20th November, 2009

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    Ambrette 9 by Le Labo

    Notes: Subtle floral notes, pear, apple, ambrette seeds (from luckyscent.com)

    Ambrette 9 starts vegetal and green, with rooty notes evocative of carrot or iris, violet leaf, and something sweet and fruity. The "something sweet and fruity" turns out to be a note which, simply put, smells like Kool Aid in a generic "red" flavor. Within minutes, the lovely green notes are gone, and the "red" (cherry? strawberry?) persists in a one-note linear composition. A rapid development (under two hours) left me with hardly anything to smell except a very light and soapy white musk skin-scent. I have smelled shampoos with more personality and tenacity.

    20th November, 2009

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    Aziyade by Parfum d'Empire

    Parfum d'Empire Aziyade

    Notes: pomegranate, crystallized date, almond, orange and prune, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, Egyptian cumin, carob, frankincense, vanilla, Madagascar vanilla absolute, patchouli, musk, cistus (from luckyscent,com)

    To my nose, Aziyade has a rough start--piercing leather and tea notes along with an almost sickening spiced and stewed fruit accord. The spice blend is actually quite nice, and contains cinnamon, clove and cardamom. The less appetizing part is a thinly sweet, waxy, inedible cherry and plum combination. Thankfully the fruit simmers down considerably within ten minutes, and this is when Aziyade takes a good turn. Think about the perfumer who created Ambre Russe in all its boozy, smoky, spicy, leathery, ambery glory, and what he might do if he wanted to make his own version of L'Artisan's Tea for Two. Here you'll find Aziyade. In fact, the middle and late drydown stages of Aziyade are far better than T42 because it does not turn to potpourri as T42 has a tendency to do. In contrast, Aziyade's drydown is a warm and pleasant light amber, lightly spiced and balsamic with labdanum and vanilla. Add to this some decent sillage, and you have a rich, spicy, smoky leather oriental which gives and gives.

    07 November, 2009

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    Amber Absolute by Tom Ford

    Tom Ford Amber Absolute

    Notes: Frankincense, Amber, Woody Notes, Vanilla, Labdanum (from osmoz.com)

    I love amber. I love amber. Did I mention I love amber? Amber Absolute is an amber lover's amber. Its primary ingredient is the woody, smoky, peppery, leathery, balsamic note labdanum. It is sweetened by vanilla which also lends its wood, hay and tobacco nature to the composition. It is made resinous with frankincense and benzoin, the frankincense adding a gorgeous smoky incense note that never smells metallic or funky. Amber Absolute is not overly complicated, but it is extremely rich, with a good balance of dry, tannic and sweet. It is amber in its most classic form. The quality of ingredients here is excellent, along the lines of Profumum Ambra Aurea, and equally satisfying. I love amber.

    07 November, 2009 (Last Edited: 08 November, 2009)

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    Hypnôse Senses by Lancôme

    Lancome Hypnose Senses EDP

    Notes: Mandarin Orange, Pink Pepper, Osmanthus Blossom, Rose, Honey, Patchouli,, Rockrose, Benzoin, Tonka Bean (from osmoz.com)

    Hypnose Senses bears only one familiar mark from its namesake Hypnose--VANILLA. Lots and lots of vanilla with roses, powder, generic woody notes and musk. At first, there is a nice balance between flower, fruit and the ever-present vanilla. The fragrance starts very soft and boneless, not trending in any particular direction. Soon, almost all of the distinctive notes have faded to imperceptible levels as Hypnose Senses becomes yet another powder-vanilla-amber-musk. The nod to Shalimar is quite evident. For that alone, HS is not terrible, however, with so many powdery vanilla fragrances to choose from, why settle? Try some Guerlain instead.

    05 November, 2009

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    Daim Blond by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Serge Lutens Daim Blond

    Notes: Iris Pallida, apricot kernel, cardamom from Ceylon, musk, heliotrope, hawthorn (from luckyscent.com)

    Daim Blond is an oriental leather scent--very modern, soft, almost edible and really unlike many leathers which tend to be a dry green-gray chypre type of fragrance. Accompanying the leather accord, DB starts with balanced boozy sweetness from apricot fruit, soft, buttery florals and an almond note. The apricot-leather combination is evocative of other leathery fragrances which use osmanthus flower (Parfums d'Empire Osmanthus Interdite, The Different Company Osmanthus), but the accord in DB is deeper and more mellow while maintaining delicacy and weightlessness. In the mid notes, DB becomes more woody and nutty, with a saltiness that gives an impression of popcorn and salted cashews. As this salty accord develops, it becomes increasingly like the sensual salty skin scent which occurs after fresh sweat dries. The salty, buttery and nutty notes persist into the base, which is composed of sweet musk and Iso E Super. Overall, DB has moderate sillage and longevity, and is somewhat linear in development--as such I suggest sampling for a while before buying, in case DB's linear nature becomes boring. Its softness makes it suitable for men or women. Generally, though, Daim Blond is a very enjoyable fragrance that charms with subtleness and grace.

    31st October, 2009

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    Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Serge Lutens Musc Kublai Khan

    Notes: civet, castoreum, costus roots, cumin, labdanum, Moroccan rose, ambergris, ambrette seeds, beeswax, vanilla and patchouli (from nstperfume.com)

    Musc Kublai Khan starts as an animalic one-two-three punch, rife with large doses of civet, castoreum and indolic floral notes. The opening is incredibly intoxicating: the civet lends a fecal edge verging on sweet; the leathery castoreum smells of rootbeer and bitter plant tonics; and the indolic notes balance the first two with a vanillic "wet cardboard" quality which adds some dimension and uniformity to the opening accord. I suspect there is also some honey or blackcurrant bud, as there is a slight urinous edge as well. Sadly, this amazing animalic orchestra begins to fade very quickly, allowing the honey/blackcurrant bud note take on a piercing quality. I presume this is the "dirty underwear" accord many people seem to find in MKK. The much maligned cumin comes out a bit later in the middle development as MKK rounds out and starts to smell slightly more leathery and skin-like. I must say, so far MKK ALMOST holds up to the skankiest vintage fragrances I have tried such as Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles extrait or Dana Tabu. Actually, I find MKK to be considerably cleaner smelling than those great classics. This is reinforced by the fact that, to my nose, the base is a soapy white musk blended with a vanilla-prominent amber. Generally speaking, the older formulae I have tried seem to have warmth and character which MKK lacks. Still, MKK is an extremely well-composed, smooth oriental which carries forth an established tradition using modern ingredients--one could do a whole lot worse. Highly recommended.

    31st October, 2009

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