Reviews by Somerville Metro Man

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    Somerville Metro Man
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    Parure by Guerlain

    Guerlain Parure

    Parure refers to a matching set of earrings and necklace and I find that only appropriate as this 1975 creation by Jean-Paul Guerlain feels like a beautiful piece of fragrant jewelry every time I wear it. Parure is a chypre in every sense of the word but M. Guerlain also managed to add in a leather accord that takes this to a lovely animalic place at the end. The top of this starts with the classic chypre bergamot beginning but it is paired with a deep plum note which contrasts the sparkle that bergamot brings to the beginning quite nicely. The heart is a rose-dominated bouquet of florals. Rose comes forward first but it is joined by jasmine and lilac which add a touch of sweet and astringency, respectively. This kind of balance is what realy allows scents, that are a cut above, to stand out. To use other florals to subtly change and enhance the central accord that is when I know I am in the hands of a perfumer who knows their business. It is here where the leather accord comes forward and this is a strong full leather, on me. I find it similar to the leather accord in Cabochard de Gres but a little more intense. Parure finally settles down into the truly classic oakmoss dominated base that defines the chypre class. Parure has great longevity and typical sillage for a Guerlain. Parure is a complex scent that has displayed different facets to me upon every wearing and that makes it a joy to behold. If you are a lover of chypres Parure deserves to be on your list.

    30th August, 2009

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    Bell'Antonio by Hilde Soliani Profumi

    Hilde Soliani Bell'Antonio

    Back in the 70's when I would go out dancing the clubs would close at 4AM in S. Florida. Of course we wouldn't be ready to go home and there was an all-night diner named Lester's not too far from the clubs in Ft. Lauderdale. We would come strolling in and I would always love the smell of Lester's at that time of the morning. I would walk in and smell the multitude of coffee pots on their hot plates and, in those days before non-smoking sections existed, the smell of cigarettes being lit. This was what pre-dawn smelled like in the 70's. In 2008 the artisan perfumer Hilde Solianai created Bell'Antonio for her "Teatro Olfattivo di Parma" line. Bell'Antonio was meant to evoke the smell of her father Antonio and his mix of coffee and cigarettes. One of the great things about the plethora of artisanal perfumers out there like Sig.ra. Soliani is that she can make simple scents focusing on a couple of notes like coffee and cigarettes and do it magnificently because her only focus group is her own nose. The top of Bell'Antonio is the promised tobacco but it is the unsmoked tobacco. The leafy slightly sweet version of tobacco, then the tobacco turns into the smell of a cigarette after being lit as there is a smoke accord that carries into the base of brewed coffee. The coffee accord in the base is that of a pot that has been left on the hot plate just a little too long as it smells a tiny bit charred but still rich. The coffee accord also carries a little more acidity to it than other richer ones in scents like A*Men Pure Coffee or Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe. This coffee accord is the smell of a cup of coffee at 4:30 in the morning. Sig.ra. Soliani has created a close wearing realistic piece of perfumery which can transport one to an Italian Coffee Shop or as it does in my mind to 4:30 AM at Lester's somewhere in the 70's.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Miel & Citron / Honey & Lemon by L'Occitane

    L’Occitane Honey & Lemon (Miel et Citron)

    L’Occitane is one of those Houses that I hae really come to appreciate. They do nice quality scents at reasonable prices. A colognoisseur could do much worse than to have a wardrobe stocked with the offerings from L’Occitane. One of my favorites from L’Occitane is the 2007 release Honey & Lemon (Miel et Citron). L’Occitane once again manages to pull off an excellent approximation of a much more expensive scent at a much lower price. Honey & Lemon is a full-on gourmand and while the titular notes are present there is also some other notes which really give a rich feel to this scent. The top is the promised lemon but also there is some other citrus, mostly orange, there so while there is the tartness of lemon it is lightened up by the presence of the orange. Next up is the honey and this is a beautiful sweet honey accord that seems to have a thickness to it that other honey accords have not had, on me, in the past. It is joined by a caramel note which might lead one to think that the addition of another sweet note is gilding the sweetness lily a bit. In this case the caramel does firmly land the heart in cavity-inducing territory but it makes it a rich guilty pleasure instead of the kind of sweetness that gives you stomach cramps or, perhaps in this case, nose cramps? After such a sweet middle phase Honey & Lemon pulls back a bit as vanilla and patchouli finish this scent off, in the base. This allows the vanilla to be sweet but not as sweet as the two notes in the heart and the patchouli brings some needed contrast to nicely round this out. The only drawback to the L’Occitane family of scents is their longevity and Honey & Lemon has the same issue as it makes it through a normal work day for me but not much longer than that. The projection is modest and as stated before the price is low. I wonder if this was presented in a blind sniff with other much higher priced gourmands, how it would fare? My guess is it would hold its own and might even win.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir by Christian Dior

    Christian Dior Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir

    I wonder what Alexandra Ripley felt like as she sat in front of the keyboard composing her sequel, "Scarlett" to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind"? You have to be creative while taking into account the many who will bemoan the desecration of a legend, the others who want to laugh that you are even attempting a new take on a masterpiece, and the few who will actually give your creativity a chance to impress them. The perfume version of Alexandra Ripley is Francois Demachy who has taken on the task of making the sequel to three well-liked scents, all for Christian Dior, Dior Homme Cologne, Fahrenheit 32 and now, in 2007 Edmond Roudnitska's 1966 ground-breaking masterpiece with, Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir. While the first two sequels M. Demachy undertook were well-done; to try and alter a scent from one of the, arguably, greatest perfumers of the 20th century that is something entirely different. The original Eau Sauvage could be considered the forerunner to all of the fresh and clean scents currently (over)crowding the perfume shelves. M. Demachy in his design of Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir pays homage to the original but actually makes a couple of different choices than M. Roudnitska and ends up creating something all his own. The top of Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir is where the two scents are most similar. The beginning of Fraicheur Cuir is all light, tart lemon which lasts only a short while. It is in the heart that the first divergence from the original scent takes place as the similarity to the original is maintained with an herbal accord paired with cedar. The biggest difference comes in M. Demachy's use of hedione. M. Roudnitska was said to have pioneered the use of hedione in Eau Sauvage but while I'm sure it is there it never seems to be that prominent when I wear Eau Sauvage. That is not so with Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir as the hedione does its job here in all of its glory as the jasmine comes to life against the woody, herbal backdrop making this similar but entirely different. The base is where things take a dramatic turn as the promised leather appears paired with amber and the hint of oakmoss. The base is really mostly leather with the amber there to provide some depth to it all. Eau Sauvage is one of those very short lasting scents on me. Eau Sauvage Fraicheur Cuir happily has much more longevity and lasts a good 6-8 hours on me. There is also much less projection than in the original. I know I wouldn't have the courage to try and pick up a previous work and make it my own. Bravo to Francois Demachy for not only trying but succeeding, spectacularly so.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Intrigant Patchouli 08 by Parfumerie Generale

    Parfumerie Generale Intrigant Patchouli

    For those of us who grew up in the 70's our first exposure to exotic oils probably took place in a "head shop". That store of illicit smoking paraphenalia and along with that went incense and essential oils. The most pungent of those oils was patchouli but there were hints of others underneath the smell of patchouli which created a signature "head shop" fragrance. Pierre Guillaume in 2005's Intrigant Patchouli has faithfully recreated the smell of a "head shop" circa 1975. The only question is do you want to smell like that? Intrigant Patchouli gets right down to business form the first spritz as patchouli comes right to the front and for most of the development of this scent stays right there, center stage. There are supporting notes of sandalwood, cinnamon, and vanilla; which is appropriate becasue these were also common essential oils available in any "head shop". Intrigant Patchouli never really evolves from that strong accord from beginning to end, on me. Which makes it the only linear scent I've experienced from Parfumerie Generale. Like most of the Parfumerie Generale line this has above average longevity and average sillage. The funny thing I've learned is that while I like the smell of the "head shop" I realize I don't want to smell like a "head shop"

    22nd August, 2009

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    Monk by Michael Storer

    Michael Storer Monk

    Over the last few years there have been a number of artisanal perfumers who have sprung up. One common thread to all of them is they present a distinct view of what they think perfume should be and then go about making perfumes that live up to those ideals. Michael Storer is one of this breed of artisanal perfumers and his creations are challenging olfactory fever dreams. His 2005 creation Monk is the scent that would seem to work best on me, as a lover of incense and birch tar, and with those notes at the top of his ingredients; Monk should be just what I'm looking for. With a name like Monk it is sure to conjure up images of European monasteries over a 1,000 years old and the top of Monk surely does that. At the top Monk smells like a musty hallway in an ancient stone edifice redolent of smoke and aged parchment, with only faint hits of incense. This beginning comes off a lot like CB I Hate Perfume In The Library but with the addition of smoke. I have to say this beginning is challenging for me as I appreciate the stage it sets for what is to come but it lasts almost too long on me before developing further. The heart of this is where Mr. Storer really does make things come alive because apparently his band of merry monks like cocoa. This is the dry cocoa powder accord I like so much from Chanel Coromandel and Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 and here it signals a shift in tone as the smoke and mustiness is left behind and the rich tones of cocoa take over. The base is a well-balanced animalic mix of civet and musk. Mr. Storer does a great job here of balancing two very strong notes and using them to bring out the best in each other. Monk is a very long-lasting scent with very good sillage. I find the first 30-45 minutes of Monk to be almost too much of an effort, for me, but the remaining 12 hours are well worth the investment of my time.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Idole de Lubin by Lubin

    Idole de Lubin

    Every great artist has their moment where they don't connect with me. Spielberg directed a misfired attempt at romantic comedy in Always. Jean-Claude Ellena decided to try an aquatic with Cartier Declaration Bois Bleu. These are examples where trademark assets of the artist are used in the wrong milieu and create a mistake, for me. Olivia Giacobetti has created some of my favorite scents, she has a style that allows you to feel as if you're experiencing a scent through a light layer of linen in translucent waves. When she chooses her milieu correctly she creates scents like L'Artisan Tea for Two. Frederic Malle En Passant or Costes. When she chooses poorly, as she did in 2005, she creates Idole de Lubin. Mme Giacobetti clearly was looking to adapt her light quality to a boozy, spicy, leather-based scent. The only problem for me is that when I want a scent like that I don't want it to be held at arm's length. I want it to be like a shot of rum which explodes on my senses and I feel it all over. Idole de Lubin holds true to Mme. Giacobetti's aesthetic and that keeps it from working for me. The top of Idole is an ethereal mix of rum, saffron and cumin. They are expertly balanced but they are so lightly apparent on my skin that it seems like they are only present for a heartbeat. They are quickly overwhelmed by a woody accord of sandalwood and another note that is more astringent which, according to the note list, must be doum palm. Here I'm almost glad this is being held at arm's length as the woodiness seems out of balance with the sheer spices of the top. The base turns into a lovely leather and here the opaque quality, that Mme. Giacobetti has used to detriment in Idole, actually works well and the leather applied with a light hand is the best part of Idole de Lubin, for me. Idole de Lubin has good longevity but like most of Mme. Giacobetti's scents does not project very much. Idole de Lubin will go down as one of those noble failures by one of my favorite perfumers.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Mandragore by Annick Goutal

    Annick Goutal Mandragore

    When I think of Mandrake the first thing that comes to mind are the shreiking plants from Harry Potter which are used to reverse the petrifying spell. Then I think of witch's brew as mandrake root usually follows eye of newt into the witch's cauldron. For those of a later generation there was even a comic strip called Mandrake The Magician. All of these associations tend to conjure up the magical and the mysterious. I was expecting the 2005 creation by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen for Annick Goutal, based on the mandrake root, Mandragore to do the same. Mandragore is surprisingly a much lighter scent than I expected although there is a deep green aspect to it that does evoke some of the mysteriousness that the mandrake root represents. The top starts off very light and spicy with a bright mix of bergamot, anise, ginger, and a pinch of pepper. This is a well-balanced beginning if not as dark as I might have expected. The heart is where the mandrake comes in . Mandrake has an earthy deeply herbal quality. It is closest in character to the more earthy herbal patchouli that I most recently encountered in Reminiscence's Eau de Patchouli. That being said mandrake is no patchouli. The mandrake coveys the dark green herbalness but somehow it seems flat. Instead of being the star it becomes the support for the continued presence of the anise and ginger by adding a contrast to those notes. In the base there is a woody note along with some amber and musk, with the anise and ginger which really seem to last throughout the development of Mandragore. Mandragore has average longevity and average sillage, on me. Mandragore really is a scent that is not at all about the mandrake and more about the anise and ginger and while it might be misnamed it is a very pleasant summer scent, if not the witch's brew I was hoping for based on the name.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Route du Vétiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

    Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver

    Its always interesting to me when I go to a party that as you approach the crowd of people there is always one voice that drifts above the crowd. As one who has a loud voice and speaks loudly, sometime this is myself I am describing. This would be in Seinfeld terms "The Loud Talker". People tend to shy away from The Loud Talker. When it comes to vetiver and the veritable party of scents out there one scent comes off as the unquestioned Loud Talker of vetiver and that is Jean Laporte's 1988 release for his Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier line, Route du Vetiver. One of the problems with the Loud Talker is the sheer volume has a habit of keeping people at arm's length and that is true of this scented Loud Talker. Route du Vetiver is the strongest vetiver I have come across. Many think of Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire to be the strongest but Route du Vetiver is a quantum leap stronger. This strength tends to make the opening overly medicinal and harsh. It has taken multiple wearings of Route du Vetiver for me to see beyond the harsh opening and appreciate the rest of what is on display.
    Right out of the atomizer you are hit with an intense vetiver smell. It is so strong that it comes off harsh to my nose making the first moments of Route du Vetiver a trial to be endured, for me. The first time I wore this I couldn't get past the raw intensely root-laden beginning and just didn't give it a chance. It took the second and third time for me to realize that after the harsh notes dissipate there is a drydown worth listening to. This starts with one of the best black currant accords I've come across. I don't know whether I think that because I'm so relieved to get away from the harsh beginning but it is paired with a lighter green accord and the dark fruit plus green is just beautiful. The vetiver seems to come back but at a third of the volume along with a mix of woods in the base with sandalwood the most prominent of the woods, although there are at least three other woods in here. Route du Vetiver has above average longevity and above average sillage. Because the vetiver is so strong at the beginning I think this is a scent one would have to be careful wearing out in public for the first 30 minutes or so as the beginning is so strong. After that, once it mellows, Route du Vetiver really does become a joy to behold. Like The Loud Talker I can understand not wanting to subject oneself to the volume, but if you do choose to get close enough you might find there is something under all the volume to be discovered.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Méchant Loup by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    L'Artisan Mechant Loup

    Mechant Loup translates to the Big, Bad Wolf from fairytales. I felt like the version of the Big, Bad Wolf from The Three Little Pigs. The first time I wore this 1997 Bertrand Duchaufour scent for L'Artisan it was like the house of straw from the story. It barely lasted on my skin and what was there seemed insubstantuial. The second time I wore it, it was more like the house of sticks as I got more feeling but not enough to make me think much of it. It took the third wear and the metaphorical house of bricks before I finally appreciated this scent. Mechant Loup is not as bold a scent as you'd expect for one named after a large lupine scoundrel. No, Mechant Loup instead is the Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood dressed in grandmother's clothes and waiting to jump up and surprise you. The top of this starts off with a mix of hazelnut and honey, this mix of a light roasted nuttiness and the sweetness of honey comes through right from the get go and remains throughout as it is these two notes that form the spine of Mechant Loup. They are joined by sandalwood to start and this is the part that was most difficult for me to experience as the first couple of times the honey and hazelnut seemed to not let the other notes come alive on my skin. Now, the sandalwood seems to really compliment the core notes. Then it leads into a heart where myrrh comes into the mix and the unguent, resinous nature of myrrh really adds contrast to the scent. I also think I've become more familiar with myrrh over the time I've been trying Mechant Loup and the first times I wore this I found the contrast jarring now I find it more pleasing. It's a good example that as one's nose becomes more flexible, scents that once seemed less pleasant can have a second life. The base is tonka which is the perfect compliment to the honey and hazelnut accord as the sweet, slightly spicy tonka both presents added sweetness and a hint of spicy contrast. Mechant Loup has average longevity and average sillage on me. For me this was a scent well worth taking the time to finally get to know a little better, even if it was the Big, Bad Wolf.

    22nd August, 2009

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    L'Essence de Déclaration by Cartier

    Cartier L'Essence de Declaration

    Jean-Claude Ellena created Cartier Declaration in 1998. He has said in interviews since that it was his homage to Edmond Roudnitska's 1951 Eau D'Hermes. There are many similarities between the two the most obvious is the use of cumin. The other one is they are both fairly light-wearing creations and the notes in Declaration always had me looking for ways to get a little more intensity out of them. Thankfully, for me, M. Ellena must have wanted something similar and in 2001 created a flanker to Declaration, L'Essence de Declaration. The un-talented would have just probably upped the concentration of a few notes and re-released this. M. Ellena, of course, is not that kind of perfumer. He realized that if you were going to turn up the olfactory volume much like when you turn up the volume on your speakers you can't make it too loud or the bass line distorts the sound. The same holds true here. In Declaration there is a beautiful sheer core of medicinal woods comprised of birchwood, wormwood, and juniper wood. Intensify these ingredients and this would smell like a pharmacist's experiment gone bad. Instead by skillfully choosing some different woods he is able to take Declaration and quite beautifully create a more intense version of it without making it feel distorted. The top of L'Essence is nearly identical to that of the original as the bergamot and slightly bitter orange start it off with an astringent, tart accord. It is as we move into the woody heart that M. Ellena makes his first choice of cedar added. There is cedar in the base of Declaration in L'essence he pulls it forward into the heart. This has the aspect of drawing clean bold lines around the mix of woods here and then he adds some sweet rosewood to balance this out. The birch is still present but the juniper has been replaced with cardamom and this adds some softness to the heart while allowing the birchwood more presence. The cumin is also present but with the woods leading the way it comes off more muted and in some ways less forward than in Declaration. For those who are really cumin averse this might still be too much. For those who are intrigued by the note but don't like the sweaty accord cumin usually adds this might be just right for you. The base is the same base as in Declaration as a mix of vetiver, oakmoss and the continued presence of cedar end this almost identically. L'Essence de Declaration has great longevity on me, more than Declaration and more sillage than the original, too. If it wasn't for the aquatic misfire of Declaration Bois Bleu I would call M. Ellena's Declaration family the best group of original scent and flankers out there, as it is three out of four isn't a bad batting average.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Acqua di Giò pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

    Armani Acqua di Gio pour Homme

    Acqua di Gio, the 1996 scent created for Giorgio Armani, is the most popular scent in terms of sales in the world as of 2008. Popularity and sales do not automatically confirm greatness on any artistic endeavor. Conversely those attributes shouldn't be made to seen as detriments, either. Acqua di Gio is popular for a reason and that reason, I think, is Wonder Bread. I love bread of all kinds, a fresh-baked croissant, a crunchy baguette, savory whole grain loaf, you get the idea. If you put down a jar of crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly and ask me what bread I want it on, I'm going to choose Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread just tastes great in that situation. I really like the other breads I mentioned, more, but for a good old PB&J I'm going to choose Wonder Bread. Acqua di Gio falls in the same category. It isn't my favorite fresh scent out there in fact it probably doesn't crack my top 20, although that's probably close. Yet, on a sunny summer day there are just days I want to wear Acqua di Gio for all of the things it does right. The one thing Acqua di Gio gets very right is it is composed in a light style which keeps it from ever becoming cloying or heavy on me. Right from the beginning the lightness of touch is evident as a breeze of jasmine on top of other florals lead this into a fruity heart paired with a very typical aquatic heart. This would be the ideal description of many feminine fruity florals but because Acqua di Gio keeps its composition so muted this works well as a masculine and if someone is getting nervous about wearing a fruity floral the base is full of strong he-man accords. Starting with cedar followed by patchouli and a sheer white musk. Acqua di Gio is that very easy-to-wear scent that owes its popularity to that quality, I think. There is nothing challenging here but there is also nothing to make one want to turn away either. As many scents in this class Acqua di Gio has average longevity and a decent amount of projection. Acqua di Gio is perfect for that sunny day I'm in the mood for a little PB&J on Wonder Bread.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Habanita by Molinard

    Molinard Habanita

    I have pretty much set foot in every country in the Western Hemisphere, but one, Cuba. What is funny is that for a country that I have never set foot in and only seen from the deck of a sailboat in passing I have a vivid picture of what it must be like. That mental picture comes from the Cuban ex-patriates that moved to Miami in the 60's. As a kid I would listen to the stories of Havana and the countryside of Cuba and soak it all in. While many people would focus on tobacco and rum as the scents they most associate with Cuba there is one other scent I also associate with Cuba, flowers. One of our neighbors, Sra. Menendez, grew a garden in her yard, full of tropical flowers. She would tell me the story of how, in her home in Havana, she had the most beautiful garden. She took the time to teach a young man about the different flowers in her garden and to identify them and they all had a distinct smell. I am reminded of Sra. Menendez's garden everytime I wear the scent created in 1921 for Molinard, Habanita. While there is tobacco present in this scent, this is more like a stroll in a tropical garden and what makes this a stand-out scent for me is that it is like a walk in a garden as each floral note seems to appear very distinctly only to be replaced by the next one. The top of Habanita starts off with a light breeze of bergamot and cedar and then I enter the olfactory garden and the first floral note I get is lavender. Thisi is a very powdery lavender and it might be too powdery for some but it doesn't last long before I get a hint of orange blossom then comes jasmine, rose, heliotrope, and ylang ylang all in succession. underneath all of this is an earthy accord which really brings to mind the garden milieu of cedar mulch and dirt underneath lush florals. As Habanita progresses into the base the florals fade to the background and amber, leather, vanilla, and tobacco come to the fore. These four notes combine to create a divine drydown in Habanita that smells great. Habanita is a long lasting scent with a lot of projection. If you are not a fan of florals this is not the scent for you. If you are a fan of florals this is a scent which allows everyone of them present to have their moment in the spotlight and shine. For me Habanita is like a walk in Sra. Menendez's garden all over again.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Givenchy III by Givenchy

    Givenchy III

    I do enjoy when a perfume takes me for a ride. Givenchy III is one of those scents which has three distinct phases much like a roller coaster, but in a good way. Givenchy III was created in 1970 and re-released and reformulated in 2007. This is the fate of all chypres as oakmoss has become a restricted ingredient for use in perfumery. I've had the good fortune to wear both the vintage and re-formulated versions and this is a case where both have their charms but the vintage version is superior to my nose. The top of Givenchy III starts with an aldehydic effervescence paired with galbanum. This is very much a hallmark of scents created in the 70's as many of the best ones lead with a shot of aldehydes. This is a nice build-up to an amazingly balanced floral, green heart. Here is where Givenchy III picks up speed and takes you over the top racing through a garden full of floral notes. It starts with jasmine, then a left turn to a spicy clove-like carnation then a right turn to lily of the valley, picking up speed you race through hints of rose, and gardenia. Then after all of that the ride takes you to the its calming base which starts with a warm amber before the classic patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver chypre combo kicks in. Finally you get out of your olfactory roller coaster exhilirated at the beautiful ride you just took. The re-formulated version holds true to most of the vintage version except in the base which feels thinner to me. There is something in there that approximates the oakmoss but somehow doesn't get the full effect as in the vintage formulation. I still think the re-formulated version is a great perfume but the vintage is slightly better. One drawback to Givenchy III is like my analagous roller coaster ride this scent has a fairly short longevity on me ,which is normal for most chypres on me, but Givenchy III disappears faster than other chypres and that is too bad because I would like to linger over the phases a little longer than they last on my skin. Givenchy III is a great example of a chypre and if you are a fan of this style of scent it is well worth buying a ticket to ride.

    22nd August, 2009

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    Rose Kashmirie by Les Parfums de Rosine

    Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Kashmirie

    Marie-Helene Rogeon is the founder of Les Parfums de Rosine and their raison de etre seems to be to see how many different types of rose centered scents a House can make. With that kind of a mission that probably means there is a rose in there for every nose. I am a big fan of Les Parfums de Rosine Rose D'Homme. I also love the mix of rose and saffron I get from both Diptyque's Opone and Czech & Speake's Dark Rose. The 2007 creation, by longtime nose for Les Parfums de Rosine Francois Robert, Rose Kashmirie promised me rose and saffron in an oriental and I was looking forward to it. One of the things I like about Rose D'Homme is the arid dusty rose in that scent, Rose Kashmirie couldn't be more different as this starts with a full-throated roar of rose as lush and full-figured as rose gets on me. The rose is quickly joined by a touch of bergamot and then the saffron shows up and this is what Rose Kashmirie is all about as the smooth saffron takes the top to an enchanting olfactory space. As this develops the rose becomes deeper and slightly sweeter and then a hint of resin adds a slight bit of incense-like sweeteness to the scent. The base takes a turn towards vanilla and a light woody musk. The vanilla is the dominant note and that seems appropriate because the theme of Rose Kashmirie seems to be sweet rose and the vanilla allows that sweetness to develop all the way to the end. For all that this is an intense rose it does not carry a lot of sillage and is mostly close-wearing on me and I like an intense scent that only feels the need to fill up my nose and not the room. The longevity is excellent as have been all of Les Parfums de Rosine that I have tried to date. Once again I have taken a walk in Mme. Rogeon's garden of perfume roses and found a new one to add to my lapel.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Bronze Goddess Eau Fraîche Skinscent by Estée Lauder

    Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent

    As someone who grew up in South Florida I feel a strong personal connection to the beach and the smells of the beach. It is one of the reasons I like aquatics for the ability to re-create the smell of the ocean and the surf. There is another way to conjure the beach milieu and that is to go for that melange of scent that encompasses sun-baked skin and the suntan oil slathered on that skin. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, the 2008 release, does that. There is a little contretemps about this scent because it is often compared to the 2007 release designed by Tom Ford, in 2007, called Azuree Soleil Eau Fraiche Skinscent. I have a sample of this and to my nose the two scents are identical and so I am going to credit Tom Ford with the design of Bronze Goddess, too. One of the harder things to do when trying to emulate a day on the beach in a perfume bottle is to keep it light but intense. This is because when you're at the beach the breeze comes along and whisks away any scents before they get too strong but then it lulls and you get a strong sense of the scents around you. Bronze Goddess does a great job of this. Right at the top you get a mix of light florals and coconut. Like the gardenia and jasmine bushes back at the edge of the beach and the slowly browning body on the towel next to you slathered with coconut sunscreen. On the other side of you a child is snacking on a candy apple as a sweet caramel accord joins the mix. Just beyond the next towel there are some dudes playing hacky sack and you get a hint of the incense they were burning in their van up in the parking lot. As the sun sets you smell the wood being collected for the evening fire pit as you pack up your towel and head home from your day at the beach. I could wish that Mr. Ford had chosen to include an ozonic accord of some kind to evoke the surf because this trip to the beach is oddly devoid of any hint of water. What is here is really quite nice and goes well with a sunny summer day whether I'm on the beach or not.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Fire Island by Bond No. 9

    Bond No. 9 Fire Island

    Growing up in South Florida in the late 60's and early 70's there was one "it" hotel on Miami Beach, The Fontainebleau. It was where the richest people who would flee the cold, of a mostly Northeastern winter, would stay. It was also where I had my Senior Prom. As a child I was able to spend many afternoons at the bow-tie shaped pool at The Fontainebleau. As I would be playing in the pool and observing the adults around me one thing I would notice was the brownest, most-tanned, sun worshippers were all using the same tanning lotion. It came in a large metal squeeze tube with orange and brown stripes on it. It was called Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee. I think it had an SPF of like negative 4, not that they kept track of that in those days. Most of these very stylish tanners would be covered in a sheen of this stuff and it had the most interesting scent to it. I could stand next to the pool at The Fontainebleau and breathe deeply and get a contact high from the amount of this baking in the sun around me. This was the smell of sun and wealth for me. I hadn't come across this smell in well over 30 years until I picked up Michel Almairic's 2006 creation for Bond No. 9, Fire Island. From the first moment I sprayed Fire Island on I was in my bathing suit poolside at The Fontainebleau as this scent absolutely is the scent of Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee. Of course now I can actually pick apart some of the threads that make up the tapestry of this scent. The top starts with a fresh beat of cardamom and neroli but it is quickly overtaken by a mix of tuberose and musk in the heart of this. This is the signature smell of Bain de Soleil and M. Almairic mixes a heady floral like tuberose with an animalic light musk which conjures up the sun kissed skin. As this develops into the base the musk becomes deeper and patchouli joins in but in a light, unobtrusive way. Fire Island's core is the mix of tuberose and musks and it is really nice. Because of the presence of those musks I think this is a very wearable floral for a man. Fire Island has a great longevity on me and it doesn't have a lot of sillage. It stays pretty close to my skin for its duration. M. Alamiric has reached into my memory and re-created a childhood spent poolside and allows me to remain a tanned young boy frolicking in a hotel pool even as I approach 50.

    03rd August, 2009

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    At The Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume

    CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966

    I own four scents which are meant to resemble suntan oil/lotions. Some of them get the suntan lotion note completely right, Bond No. 9 Fire Island and Jean Patou Chaldee. Some of them remember to include the smell of sun-warmed skin, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. Only one of them remembers to add the ocean to the mix, Christopher Brosius’ 2005 release for his CB I Hate Perfume line, At The Beach 1966. As in all of the scents I mentioned previously Mr. Brosius’ inspiration was the scent of a suntan lotion of the time, Coppertone. 1966 was a simpler time when we, probably foolishly, didn’t pay attention to SPF’s or dermatological risks of being in the sun. We just wanted to be as brown as we could get. The choice of suntan lotion for many in those days was Coppertone. Right from the top of this Mr. Brosius hits the Coppertone accord accurately. It reminds me as I would arrive at the beach walking by the early risers who already had absorbed the sun’s first rays. The smell of Coppertone on warm skin would surround me. Then as I’d unroll my towel the breeze would blow in from the surf and I’d get the smell of the salt spray from the waves crashing, followed by the smells of the sand. Mr Brosius brilliantly brings that milieu to life in At The Beach 1966 as after the Coppertone accord fades a bit there is a strong salty, ozonic accord which mimics the surf followed by an iodine laden accord which evokes the wet sand under that surf. Mr. Brosius sells his creations as water perfumes and if that term makes you nervous about strength or longevity I haven’t found the use of a water base to have any difference over the alcohol used in most other perfumes. At The Beach 1966 is a long-lasting, close wearing scent on me. At The Beach 1966 is like captured time in a bottle of perfume and it has all the ingredients from a day at the beach.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Ginestre by Santa Maria Novella

    Santa Maria Novella Ginestra

    There is a point every summer where spring and its lush green starts to get seared by the sun and the greenery begins to dry up. As you walk past a newly mown field you get this sweet, grassy smell. This is one of the scents of the end of summer for me. Santa Maria Novella has captured this green and floral smell in their scent, Ginestra. Ginestra is a flower also known as Scotch Broom. Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest farmacias in the world and dates back to the 17th century. That it would be one of these farmacias to get the smell of summer grass so right is no surprise to me. The top of Ginestra starts with a very light citrus accord of bergamot, lime and orange blossom. The heart of this comes in with a beautiful sweet, grassy, hay accord accompanied by a light floral which must be the scotch broom flower. It is most like a very dialed-down osmanthus to my nose and the lightness of it accentuates the sweet of the hay but also adds contrast to the grassiness, too. A touch of oakmoss creeps in towards the end of the evolution but Ginestra stays firmly in the floral green stage for the majority of its duration on my skin. Santa Maria Novella Ginestra comes as an EDT and on my skin has decent but not great longevity. It has surprising sillage for an EDT though. Ginestra is definitely a warm-weather scent as it needs some heat to really allow it to flower. For me I'm going to lie down in my newly mown field and watch the clouds go by overhead with a big smile on my face.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Cuba by Czech & Speake

    Czech & Speake Cuba

    Growing up in S. Florida in the 60's I watched the Cubans who fled Castro turn Little Havana into a thriving neighborhood. I used to ride my bike down there and feel like I had entered a new country. One of my favorite ways to spend time was playing dominos with some of the older men of the community. They taught me the game, helped me sharpen my Spanish speaking skills, and told me stories of the Cuba that was. Because I have such a strong mental picture of what Cuba is like and the smells I associate with Little Havana I was very interested in a scent called Cuba. This 2002 creation by John Stephen for Czech & Speake lives up to its name and does a great job evoking the smells of the islands. The top is the mojito accord that Guerlain Homme promised, but Mr. Stepehn achieves, in Cuba. A mix of lime, rum and mint starts Cuba off and while this does come off as a mojito my long standing bugaboo with mint still stands as it comes off toothpaste like but thankfully not dominant as it is the rum and lime that carry the top. Next is the spicy latin heart of Cuba as clove and bay come in with some heat and bring this to life along with the lightest of rose. No trip to Cuba would be complete without cigars and the base of Cuba is tobacco laden goodness. Along with the tobacco are solid components of vetiver to contrast the sweetness of the tobacco and cedar to draw some clean borders around all of it. According to the note list there is some incense here but I have never gotten that in my experience with this scent. Cuba is a long-lasting scent on me with moderate sillage. Cuba does a great job reminding me of the stories the abuelos told me while playing dominos. It smells what I imagine a night at the Hotel National in Havana smelled like back in the 50's.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Macassar by Rochas

    Rochas Macassar

    Every once in a while I want to wear something that leaves a fragrant trail behind me. Much like in the old Looney Tunes cartoons featuring Pepe Le Pew when his scent is depicted in a colorful cloud emanating from his tail. Not that I want to smell like Pepe Le Pew, mind you. When I get in that mood I almost always look to the powerhouse section of my wardrobe and the scents that were created in the late 70's and early 80's. These are masculine scents that wear gold chains, shirts unbuttoned down to their navel, and Italian leather shoes. They're not subtle, they are a sign of their times, and the shoes still look good. Rochas Macassar which was created in 1980 by Nicolas Mamounas is a perfect example of this style of perfumery and at least for me still works when I'm in the right mood for it. The top is a mix of absinthe and pine. This gives it a slightly astringent, medicinal quality which somehow keeps its balance on my skin. The heart is a mix of the clove-like quality of carnation and the rose-like quality of geranium mixed with a healthy dose of patchouli. Here is where the power of Macassar really comes to the fore. The carnation really picks up the astringency of the top notes and carries it to a deeper more comfortably aromatic space as the geranium and the patchouli complete the transition. The base is where Macassar really shows off its hairy chested masculinity with a mix of vetiver, oakmoss, and musk all in support of a fine, deep leather accord. The supporting players to the leather really add to the overall feel of the base and make this an extremely satisfying close. Needless to say Macassar has a lot of sillage to it and lasts a long time as do most of the powerhouses of this era. Macassar is a scent that was unapologetic in its forwardness and I share that quality in my enjoyment of it.

    03rd August, 2009

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    L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake

    Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme


    Guilty pleasures I have many. I love fine food and will pay lots of money for a tasting menu at one of my favorite chef's restaurants. On the other hand some nights there is nothing like a Burger King Whopper with cheese. There are times I sit there chewing thinking this is better than anything I have ever eaten before. As in life so it is with perfume. I have found a number of niche aquatic scents that I love but there are some days when I wear Jacques Cavallier's 1994 creation for Issey Miyake, L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme, that I think this is still the best. L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme is Perfume 101 for many colognoisseurs and rightfully so. It has been a staple scent of the fresh, aquatic category and is many perfume wearers aquatic of choice. One reason is it is probably one of the longest lasting in this category of scent. It is the only one I own that I have to be careful not to spray too much on and I don't have to worry about freshening it up later in the day. That is a big advantage. The other reason is it just is a good, solid scent. Yes there are better out there, a few. There are many much worse, a lot. From the top L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme blows in on a fresh breeze of citrus with yuzu taking the lead but there is a slight hit of coriander and sage to give a little unexpected depth to the top. The heart takes those and adds some spices with a little more heft to them as nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron deepen the development. They are joined by a green geranium note. The base goes all woody fresh with a light mix of sandalwood, vetiver and a touch of amber. L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme is the epitome of a linear scent starting off light and increasing in weight and depth thorughout. It has a nice sillage to it to add to its already mentioned longevity. Just as when I sit at Burger King eating my Whopper; L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme manages to bring the same guilty smile to my face, as big as it gets.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Eau des Îles by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

    Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

    I used to spend my summers on a sailboat in the Caribbean instead of going to summer camp. When we would tie up in a local marina my friend Buddy and I would untie out bicycles from down below and be ready to go exploring. I can always remember my legs astride my bike looking at a new island and taking a deep breath. I would smell the flowers indigenous to the islands, usually there would be bags of spices to be shipped somewhere, the smell of smoke drifting, and somewhere the smell of roasting coffee. That was the smell of exploration for much of my young life. Thanks to a very generous Basenoter I have rediscovered this smell in Jean Laporte's 1988 creation for Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, Eau des Iles. The top of this is the smell of myrtle and tarragon the mix of light floral and light spice is exactly what the breeze would bring. As we move into the heart, a beautiful coffee accord becomes evident along with a smoky incense, that is more smoke than incense, and the floral character deepens as ylang ylang adds to the myrtle from the top. The coffee accord deserves mentioning because this is an accord of the oily roasted bean, slightly woody and very aromatic. The base is a classic Laporte mix of patchouli and vetiver and this is the herbal kind of patchouli which mixes well with the green sharpness of vetiver. Eau des Iles is one of those scents that seems to last forever on my skin as I always detect it the next morning. Eau des Iles also was a scent that took me multiple wears for me to finally be able to wrap my head around it. Which, on reflection, is only appropriate for a scent which reminds me of my days of exploring new things.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Aramis 900 by Aramis

    Aramis 900

    Aramis is one of those Houses that it took me a while to explore. One of the main reasons was that the original Aramis was associated with guys who wore too much cologne as I spent many nights choking on some would-be player’s cologne trail and it would invariably be Aramis. Flash-forward to a couple of years ago and I cautiously try Aramis Tuscany and say not bad. I follow this up with a sniff of JHL. Then the SA goes you should try this one it’s by the same person who designed Aramis. Immediately I’m like no chance, but it was too late, because like a trained sniper she’d sprayed the back of my hand. When I pulled it cautiously to my nose I was met with this overwhelmingly strong opening that made me think “Bleahh” but I gave it a moment and this became the scent that really turned my opinion of Aramis the House around. The scent on the back of my hand was the 1973 creation of Bernard Chant, Aramis 900. The opening of 900 is very strong and pushes right to the edge of what indoles can create. When indoles are used in too high a concentration they can come off smelling fecal but as they mellow they open up a wonderful deep green quality to a scent. From the first spray of 900 it comes off just to the wrong side of fecal but it thankfully lasts mere minutes and the deep green character comes through along with a bergamot that gives it a little sparkle. The depth of this green never really lets go and it is joined by a rosewood note which adds a little of both parts of that compound word as I get a little rose and a little wood to balance the green. The base is all chypre as oakmoss, vetiver and patchouli close 900 in standard style. Aramis 900 says on the bottle that it is an “herbal eau de cologne” and for a pyramid which contains no herbs it does come off as exactly what it’s labeled as. Unlike Aramis, 900 does not leave a trail of choking “admirers” in its wake. It is fairly close-wearing for a cologne with the heft it displays. Thankfully, 900 was the scent which has allowed me to put aside the bad memories of my youth and make new friends with an old House.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Aubépine-Acacia by Creed

    Creed Aubepine Acacia

    It is so much fun when you get surprised by a House. I've tried all of the classic Creeds and I like them, for the most part. As part of making sure I understand all of the scents from a House I try to make sure I expereience all of them at some point. Due to a very generous gift early on in my Basenotes expereince I was given a bottle of Creed Aubepine Acacia which was created in 1965. I received this bottle in the late winter and in my enthusiasm wore it and was disappointed. Then I gave it another try in the heat of summer and what a turnaround. What was a tight uninteresting scent at first sniff became a wonderful surprise on second sniff. The top notes of bergamot laced with galbanum need the heat to let them expand. Although while these two notes are finding their footing there is a rocky 5-10 minutes where this scent seems like it isn't going to come together, but then it does. The heart is where the titular notes come into play as the herbal and green nature of hawthorn (aubepine) and the sweet floral of mimosa (acacia) combine much more harmoniously, than the duo at the top, as right from the moment they appear they take this scent to a new level. The base is a sheer amber which keeps the light tone in place and keeps the refreshing nature in place. Aubepine Acacia feels a bit like a refreshing eau de colognes but with much more longevity. This is marketed as part of the Creed Feminine Line but I don't see it as not being firmly unisex in nature. The floral nature never takes so much of a central role and the green nature of this is really the dominant accord. On a hot summer day Aubepine Acacia is like a refreshing cool drink of water for my nose.

    03rd August, 2009

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    Midnight Forest by Neil Morris Fragrances

    Neil Morris Midnight Forest

    To those who read my reviews they know that I am a big fan of Neil Morris and his creations. Up until now the ones I have enjoyed have all been focused around floral accords and notes. I was very intrigued when I saw the note list for 2009's Midnight Forest; there was only one sort of floral note listed, that of nagarmotha which is a tuberous weed and a source of cypriol. Mr. Morris has been especially skilled in the use of overlapping floral notes to create lush, dense scents. Could he achieve the same without his "go to" notes or would this be a different kind of Neil Morris creation? The answer is perhaps both and neither. Midnight Forest is a beautiful overlap of woody notes which do create the density of his floral creations while not necessarily having the same intensity and thus creating the feeling of being the lightest of the Neil Morris scents I've tried, to date. The use of the same dark musk accord as used in both Midnight Flower and Midnight Sea does hearken back to previous compositions and it serves the same purpose in Midnight Forest that it does in those previous creations. The top of Midnight Forest starts with a strong galbanum which approaches the level of being almost too bitter and off-putting. Thankfully it never trips over the line and soon enough the promised forest begins to arrive as first a strong redwood note comes forth and in quick succession the nagarmotha, oak and myrtlewood create the olfactory forest. It is here that the slightly animalic and deep, dark musk plays around the edges much like the animals hovering just out of sight of the campfire. You get hints of them on the breeze but they never quite come close enough to the light to be seen. The base of this is a beautifully chosen resinous myrrh to evoke the incense-like smell of a pine forest at night. As with all of Mr. Morris' scents there is a great deal of longevity on me although this one does not seem to have the sillage of his floral creations. I have spent many nights camping in a forest of sentinel pines and Neil Morris has once again captured a scent memory whole and bottled it for me.

    19th July, 2009

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    Allure Homme Edition Blanche by Chanel

    Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche

    Lemons, when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. When a perfumer is faced with lemons they have to be careful not to make furniture polish. One of the most familair scents to many Americans is that of Lemon Pledge which was a furniture spray polish. Every perfumer that tries to use lemon has to worry about being compared, ususally unfavorably, to Lemon Pledge. Even so it doesn't keep the truly talented from taking a shot at it and in the 2008 release Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche, created by Jacques Polge, there is no furniture polish to be found among the polished lemons present. The top of this is a lemon that edges more to the tart and mixed with a little bergamot to keep the tart from becoming sour this is as unlike furniture polish as you can imagine. In the heart M. Polge makes a bold choice by using sandalwood. Considering that most associate lemon with the scent of polished wood it could've been a bad move. The choice of sandalwood turns out to be a brilliant move because this is a creamy sandalwood and along with that creaminess it also brings out the sweet character of the lemon making the heart feel warmer and deeper. The base uses a mix of vetiver followed by vanilla to bring this home. The vetiver sharpens the lemon before the vanilla really enhances the sweetness of the whole thing. Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche is an outstanding warm-weather scent, I love wearing it on the hottest of days as it comes off refreshing on those hot and humid days. It also has a surprising amount of longevity on me for a citrus forward scent. M. Polge has done an excellent job of making Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche smell less like a used dust rag and more like a lovely lemon creme pie which makes it quite the polished piece of work.

    19th July, 2009

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    Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

    Hermes Terre D'Hermes

    Popular. When did a term that should be considered a positive gain a negative connotation? It goes something like this; I love Stephen King books but, you know, his books are just popular. Doesn't it take a great deal of skill to be popular? It isn't like it is something everybody can do. The truly popular seem to be rare things. When we downgrade popular to make it a criticism are we speaking of ourselves? Yes there is a fragrance review in here. Terre D'Hermes is probably the most popular fragrance produced in the last few years. It was created in 2006 by Jean-Claude Ellena and was initially received to a chorus of great reviews. More recently I've seen more criticism of it which seems to boil down to "I like Terre D'Hermes but, you know, its popular." I am going to speak in defense of popularity today using Terre D'Hermes as my example. Jean-Claude Ellena is one of the current star perfumers out there and he is one of the few who regularly works the non-niche side of things. Ever since he became the head nose at Hermes he has skillfully divided his creations between the niche-like Hermessence line and the the designer side of things. Terre D'Hermes shows all of Ellena's skills as a composer of scents and does it in a non-niche way. Thus making it, you know, popular. The top of Terre D'Hermes comes in on a citrus breeze of grapefruit and orange. M. Ellena has become more skilled with the use of citrus and this is an extension of the themes begun in the Un Jardin series composed earlier for Hermes. The citrus is so realistic it smells like the grove is just out of sight around the next corner. The absolute stunning aspect of Terre D'Hermes takes place in the presence of this flint note in the heart. This is an unusual choice and a telling one. The mineral character that this gives to this scent indeed calls up the titular "Terre" or Earth and makes one feel the ground that those citrus trees are growing in and creates a unique scent experience. The base of this is almost the trademark of M. Ellena as he takes the usually strong notes of vetiver, cedar, and patchouli and instead creates an airy mix of these three which does not overwhelm and instead complements and accentuates the composition as a whole. M. Ellena has become a master of allowing every phase of his scents to be allowed to expand and breathe and in Terre D'Hermes I think he has created a singular masculine masterpiece. If, you know, its too popular for you to wear well then, you know, you're missing out on a great scent. Which, you know, is too bad.

    19th July, 2009

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    Cologne Blanche by Christian Dior

    Christian Dior Cologne Blanche

    I have really enjoyed the first two scents of the trio commissioned by Dior Homme creative director Hedi Slimane in 2004. The other two Annick Menardo's Bois D'Argent and Francis Kurkdjian's Eau Noire were both wonderful and I was curious to see if Cologne Blanche would continue the winning streak. Cologne Blanche was created by M. Kurkdjian, as well, but this is entireley different in style than Eau Noire. Where Eau Noire plumbed the depth of immortelle befitting a scent called "black water". Cologne Blanche works the other side and is very much the yin to Eau Noire's yang. Cologne Blanche plays with the lighter accords and feels like a summer breeze coming through sheer curtains into a room with a rotating fan in the ceiling. It starts with a refreshing citrus pairing of bergamot and orange to give depth to the bergamot. The heart is an herbal breath of freshness blown in through a sprig of rosemary but also made spicy with a hint of pepper. The base is one of the more subtly sweet uses of vanilla I've worn to date. This vanilla sneaks in to the room on tip toe and never overwhelms but slowly and serenely announces its presence and over a long period and eventually becomes the dominant accord. There is a moment of divine balance between the herbal green of the heart and the sweet of the vanilla that is Cologne Blanche at its best. Cologne Blanche is a close wearing scent that has a good deal of longevity and I find it to be a great warm weather scent because it comes off fresh on me without resorting to the ususal notes and accords that make up that genre of cologne. Cologne Blanche makes it a perfect three-for-three for the Dior Homme trio on my scent scorecard.

    19th July, 2009

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    B*Men by Thierry Mugler

    Thierry Mugler B*Men

    How does an artist know that they've finished? It must be a painstaking process to finally let your creation go out the door without adding one more thing to it or making that subtle change that will elevate it from good to transcendent. In the perfume world I think Jacques Huclier has been doing this ever since he let A*Men out the door in 1996 as he has now taken four more attempts at slightly tweaking the formula of A*Men. In 2004 he was joined by Christine Nagel and made the first attempt in creating B*Men. I think this initital attempt was to make something more subtle or more of an everyday version of A*Men. Certainly while B*Men is no shrinking violet it isn't the powerhouse that A*Men is. The top of B*Men starts off with the same sweetness present in A*Men but there is a more muted quality to it as the fruit notes come off with a lighter sweetness. The big difference happens in the heart as a strong redwood note is paired with a mix of light spices. The basic progression is the same as in M. Huclier's original creation but it instead moves in a different direction. The same can be said of the base as in B*Men it has the same kind of warmth but it is provided by amber instead of the strong gourmand notes that are present in A*Men. I have been spending a lot of time comparing and contrasting A*Men to B*Men and I think that's appropriate because it is readily apparent that these two scents share the same parentage. I also think it will be the rare colognoisseur that will need to have both of these in their wardrobe. It will really be a matter of personal preference which one of these will make it into your personal collection of scent art.

    19th July, 2009

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