Reviews by Somerville Metro Man

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    Somerville Metro Man
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    Rossy de Palma / Eau de Protection by Etat Libre d'Orange

    Etat Libre D'Orange Rossy de Palma

    Etat Libre d'Orange has made its mark on the clever names of its different scents as well as what is contained in the bottle. That's why it was surprising to see them putting out an actress inspired scent. On the other hand Rossy de Palma, star of Pedro Almodovar's Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, isn't likely to be confused with Jennifer Lopez anytime soon. This is a rose-focused scent which is also unlikely to be confused with the rose water your grandmother used either. Perfumers Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu combined to make a modern rose which also contains elements of the new. For me the difference comes right at first sniff as the rose is present but also a tart manadarin note which plays antagonist to the rose protagonist in the first act. The mandarin slowly fades and as the curtain goes up on the second act the co-star is honey and a sweet aura wraps the rose in what at first seems like a gentle middle when from stage left enters a hint of spice in the personages of cumin and cinnamon. As we move into act three the rose maintains its central role but now gracefully shares the olfactory stage with patchouli applied very lightly over musk and vanilla. The top and heart of this one are a joy on my skin as the rose holds my interest but the mix of citrus honey, and spice as the scent develops really add depth. The base is almost disappointingly normal but then one does need to ground the unusual in the familiar at some point. All involved need to take a bow as I stand and wrist pressed firmly to nose give the Basenotes Salute.

    28th February, 2009

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    Private Collection - Querelle by Parfumerie Generale

    Parfumerie Generale Querelle

    I am a huge fan of the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Querelle was his last film. As a film Querelle is some what of a disjointed mess and probably indicative of the state of Fassbinder's mind as he would die of a drug overdose after he completed the film. Pierre Guillaume was inspired by Jean Genet's novel and not the film. Thankfully, M. Guillaume is in much tighter control of his creation and it shows. This is a unique creation built around familiar notes. Right at the top there is an unfamiliar note a deep smell that again reminds me of spice but in a subtle way. This is not the nose tickling spice of pepper or the rounded feel of cardamom this is a beast of a different kind a deep dark feel to it. I had to go to the note list to find out it is black caraway which is combined with a beautiful citrus accord which allows the beginning of this to start in a completely different style.I don't know how difficult it is to source black caraway but I could wish for more perfumers to substitute it in place of the ubiquitous bergamot as the companion to citrus notes, it is that good. The heart of this starts with a hint of cinamon before the real star shows up and that is a beautiful myrrh this creates a rounded and luxurious heart that makes this feel sumptuous on my skin. The base uses traditional chypre components of vetiver and oakmoss but with the myrrh still firmly in place the combination of all three brings this to completeness. Querelle is what can happen when a perfumer chooses to push the boundaries, he can create something unique and something that will not appeal to everybody which come to think of it might be the tie-in to Fassbinder's film after all.

    28th February, 2009

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    Silver Bond / Andy Warhol Silver Factory by Bond No. 9

    Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

    Bond No. 9 has made three Andy Warhol scents and while they all have striking containers in the style of their namesake only Silver Factory lives up to its pedigree with the juice in the bottle. Aurelien Guichard created Silver Factory in 2007 this was on the heels of Chinatown in 2005, which is arguably Bond No. 9's best scent. Here he chose to use an incense forward scent to try and evoke the experimental culture epitomized by Andy Warhol in the late 60's. The top of this starts with that incense note right out in front and combined with grapefruit and bergamot it is a nice start. In the heart is where the "metallic note" M. Guichard was attempting to create makes its presence known. Based on the note list I think it is a mix of violet, iris and amber that pull this off. I think that because there are times I feel like I get one of those notes but then the metal accord appears right away.The incense in combination with this is where Silver Factory creates a new feel all of its own and one which feels like an experiment Andy Warhol would have participated in. Cedar comes in and then there is a thicker resinous note which deepens the original incense note that has been present from top to base to finish this off quite nicely. This is a very good incense scent and for lovers of incense is one you should try.

    28th February, 2009

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    Real Patchouly by Bois 1920

    Bois 1920 Real Patchouly

    Patchouli is one of those notes that is difficult to work with, I think. It is easy to use it and come off smelling like every head shop in existence. It is a more difficult trick to get past that association and through a combination of other notes bring out a different facet to patchouli. In Real Patchouly, Enzo Galardi does this in a very slow moving and delightful way. This is a symphony of patchouli in three movements. From the top the head shop smell of patchouli is present along with a tart lemon which keeps it familiar and maybe even commonplace or boring. This is a patchouli you've seen before, many times. Then the second movement begins and while the patchouli is still the dominant figure vanilla matches it and now accentuates the sweeter aspects of patchouli; muting but not obliterating the more herbal essence one usually associates with patchouli. After an extended second movement we move into the final movement and this comes on very slowly as you notice the herbal character of the patchouli beginning to make a return but now it has brough a partner with it, amber. The effect of the amber is to bring those herbal notes to the foreground while muting the sweeter aspects thus flipping the experience of the whole from an hour or so ago. Real Patchouly is a very slowly evolving scent as it took almost two hours for all of this to happen. This is no fast-food scent here. This scent shows what a perfumer can do with one predominant note that lasts throughout but by pairing it with the right dance partners create lovely olfactory synergies that allow you to really appreciate the central note.

    28th February, 2009

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    Juozas Statkevicius / Josef Statkus by Juozas Statkevicius

    Juozas Statkevicius

    Juozas Stakevicius is a Lithuanian Fashion Designer and while not particularly well known out side of Lithuania he asked Fabrice Pellegrin to design a signature scent for him in 2004. Until recently it was a difficult to find scent, which increased its notoriety. As a confirmed incense lover this one had been high on my list because of the good things I had read about it. In this case all of those writings were right on the money. Right from the top the incense announces itself and at this point Juozas Stakevicius doesn't stand out from many of the others on my incense shelf. It is the next shift, which happens fairly rapidly, that makes this a stand-out. As the incense pulls back just a little, first jasmine comes out to play and combines with this and makes for an amazing floral composition. Then the floral fades and vanilla comes in. This is where the sharpness of the incense keeps the sweetness of the vanilla in check to make a sweet and spicy combination of excellence. Finally the warmth of amber in combination with the incense ends this one in a combination of two of my favorite notes. This is just a beautifully done scent and one I will wear over and over again.

    28th February, 2009

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    Florida Water by Murray & Lanman

    Murray and Lanman Florida Water

    I've been wet shaving with a double-edged razor for awhile now and I've been trying some of the eau de colognes recommended in the wet shaving community. Florida Water is one of the more highly regarded of these and after a solid 4-pass shave I sprayed some on. The first blast is an intense ginger which in something calle Florida Water is surprising. Y'know since Florida is so well known for their ginger. The ginger is bracing and refreshing but quickly to the rescue is something Florida is well known for, as a citrus note comes in and makes for a spicy citrus melange that is quite nice. The spice and citrus linger for a good while before transitioning into a light floral middle which leads to a vetiver base. Like many eau de colognes the longevity is modest and if you need something to last you all day it will require you to top it up at some point. This is a really beautifully constructed eau de cologne which is amazing when you consider the price tag of $5 for 4.2oz.!! Florida Water is said to have use in voodoo ceremonies, I don't know about that, but the designers of this one have definitely performed some kind of olfactory voodoo to make something this good at that price.

    28th February, 2009

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    Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company

    The Different Company Sel de Vetiver

    Vetiver has to be one of the most versatile notes for a perfumer to work with. I probably own a dozen vetiver-based scents and I can say that none of them smell alike. The latest vetiver scent for me is Sel de Vetiver which was designed by Celine Ellena in 2006. There are signs of her father's minimalism throughout but there is also a tone which is all her own. The top is a mix of grapefruit and cardamom and it is applied lightly. The sharpness of the top notes are smoothed out with the appearance of iris and ylang ylang again applied lightly. The base is all patchouli layered with a slightly heavier hand. All of these notes are laid like a sheer drape over the core of vetiver that is present throughout the development. In the description of this Celine Ellena says she was going for an accord of "salt drying on skin after swimming in the ocean". For me, about a half an hour in she nails that accord. I could feel myself on a beach lying on the towel as the sun dried my skin after a swim. This is a beautifully done scent which achieves its stated goals but I feel it might be too light and all of the things that make it good are gone too swiftly to leave a lingering impression.

    28th February, 2009

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    Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

    Borneo 1834 has been compared to Coromandel and because they share a nose, Christopher Sheldrake, and two prominent notes in patchouli and chocolate I would guess the comparisons are inevitable. Borneo 1834's patchouli arrives on a flying carpet of camphor. The vapor trail this leaves behind is indelible and memorable. As the camphor recedes the patchouli changes character and it seems as if it becomes more herbal and a very light incense note compliments it through this stage of development. The biggest similarity I notice between Borneo 1834 and Coromandel is the source of the chocolate note. In both cases it is the smell of dry cocoa powder and not the lusher milk chocolate found in many gourmands. By using this aspect of chocolate as a note it keeps Borneo 1834 from being considered a gourmand. As the arid chocolate takes the spotlight there is a beautiful hint of wood that comes in, which I think is rosewood, and the sweet woody note really brings this home in fine style. I think that Borneo 1834 shows what a talented perfumer can do when he is using the same central players and yet still create something different.

    28th February, 2009

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    Armani Privé Bois d'Encens by Giorgio Armani

    Armani Prive' Bois D'Encens

    I think all of the designer lines want to secretly be niche but their size precludes that from truly happening. In 2004 Giorgio Armani did the next best thing he created an exclusive line called Armani Prive' in an attempt to make a niche-feeling scent. Incense is one of my favorite notes and I am always struck with the variety of ways it can be approached. Michel Almairic's approach was to create a sheer enclosure of incense that always feels on the verge of disappearing but somehow never does. Many incense scents cling to you like being enveloped in a cloud of smoke this one feels like you are in the back row at midnight mass and are getting intermittent whiffs of incense. The top starts off with a mix of pepper and incense this is a vibrant beginning as the spice of the pepper contrasts the sweet of the incense quite nicely. As we move into the heart the sweetness of the incense changes to the more austere version and is paired with cedar. The cedar adds a clean edge to the scent which is continued into the base as a smoky vetiver finishes this off. This is the second of the Armani Prive' scents I have tried and in both cases I have been impressed that a scent with the lightness of touch they have also have a nice longevity and a high degree of complexity out of what seems like a simple note list. This is another example of what a designer is capable of when they put their mind to creating something of quality and beauty.

    28th February, 2009

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    Comme des Garçons 2 Man by Comme des Garçons

    Comme des Garcons CdG2Man

    Back in 2004 Comme des Garcons asked Mark Buxton to create a male version of their very successful CdG2. As in so many art forms the sequel is not as interesting as the original Mark Buxton creation but it does carry its own charms. The top dives straightaway into the olfactory spice cabinet as cumin takes the lead along with saffron and nutmeg. The latter two are really there just to soften the rough edges of the cumin. The progression into the heart is where this one really comes alive as the spices slowly recede and a smoky wood accord takes over. This has been compared to the smell of a fireplace in other reviews and that is a spot-on description of what I get. It is like the memory of last night's fire on your sweater, very unusual and very comforting. Vetiver takes the lead as we head into the base and the woods become less last night's firewood and more today's log, ready to be thrown on the fire. Mark Buxton is becoming the perfumer who I think I should like much more than I do, his creations use many of the notes that I appreciate but for some reason don't mesh to make me go all giddy with praise. I can't say that I've found any of his compositions boring they just haven't lifted my spirits as high as I expected.

    28th February, 2009

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    Cèdre by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Serge Lutens Cedre

    Serge Lutens must have run out of Bois names and just wanted to cut to the chase and therefore Christopher Sheldrake created Cedre in 2005. Because the Serge Lutens line has been so creative and prodigious in their use of cedar, and my appreciation of it as a note, I was looking forward to a scent named simple Cedre. Imagine my surprise when after spraying it on, the top is full of cloves and cinnamon. This is a spicy beginning but where is the cedar? Must be in the heart. There I get tuberose to begin followed by a really nice honeyed amber. The tuberose is really tightly controlled by the amber and never gets to a level of full frontal floral that can be off-putting in a tuberose forward scent. Wait what did I say? Tuberose forward? Where is the cedar? Wait there it is almost 45 minutes after applying this the cedar arrives but it is incredibly subtle and subdued. The tuberose and amber are much more prominent on my skin. The base is a beautiful musk, subtly animalic, which again takes the lead but at least the titular cedar sticks around. This is a beautiful fragrance but it does not participate in truth in advertising rules in its name. Cedre? Only for a short while and it certainly isn't the center of this one. I'm not sure what I would have called this but certainly not Cedre.

    28th February, 2009

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    Fleurs de Citronnier by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier

    Citrus scents should be worn in the summer. It is almost like "Don't wear white after Labor Day" as a scent rule of thumb. Except when someone as skilled as Christopher Sheldrake decides to prove it wrong. Fleurs de Citronnier was created in 2004 and if you want a cool-weather citrus this is the scent for you. This starts out with a razor-sharp neroli bolstered by citrus. The heart holds onto the citrus while introducing honey, tuberose and iris into the mix. Depending on how you feel about white flowers this is where this scent will excel or flop for you. The tuberose becomes prominenent for a decent amount of time but with the honey and citrus cutting it, it never gets out of control on my skin. Iris shows up and really smooths this out. As we move into the base, nutmeg is the perfect transition to the musk present there. The florals and musk make this citrus with oomph and one that is best worn on a sparkling cool spring or fall day.

    28th February, 2009

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    S-ex by S-Perfume

    S-Perfume S-ex

    This is one of those scents that I acquired solely because of Turin and Sanchez's five-star review of it. Chrtistophe Laudamiel created S-ex in 2004. M Ladamiel is known by mall shoppers everywhere as the nose behind Abercrombie and Fitch Fierce which is the scent of every A&F store in the world. In S-ex he raises his game above glorified air freshener to create a singular scent. Right from the top it is unusual as I get a strong oceanic note that is the mix of salt and ozone on a mid-summer day. This is the opposite of every aquatic I have ever put on. Just as I am prepared for the entry of the clean notes that tend to be the companion of aquatic accords in hundreds of scents out there, things take a turn. The heart of this is full of soft leather. For those of you who are fans of Helmut Lang's Cuiron this is the same soft leather I get in the heart of that one. The base is full of musky goodness and adds the needed savoir faire to a scent named S-ex. This is a scent unlike any other I own. I would classify it as an aquatic leather which lives up to its five-star reputation.

    28th February, 2009

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    Bois d'Argent Cologne by Christian Dior

    Christian Dior Bois D'Argent

    Due to Annick Menardo's influence on this one and on two other of my favorite quirky scents, Le Labo Patchouli 24 and Bvlgari Black I was excited to try this. This is so unlike those scents it is surprising. This is all refined and smooth, no rough edges, no quirkiness present just an expertly blended combination of notes. This starts off with a sweet incense on me before progressing into a sheer mix of leather and patchouli in the heart. where in most scents this combination would be overpowering here they are much lighter and allow for the iris note to be the dominant note in the middle of it all making this just beautiful on me. The light hand continues into the base as a mix of honey and vanilla wrap this up in fine style. Other reviewers have mentioned the similarity to Dior Homme but I think that is mainly because both have such identifiable iris notes to them. Beyond that congruency I think these are pretty different and I think I prefer this over Dior Homme because I believe it has more complexity to it.

    28th February, 2009

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    Luctor et Emergo by People of the Labyrinths

    The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo

    When reading reviews there are a couple of criticisms that are leveled at scents which are supposed to be withering accusations, that they are synthetic or they smell like Play-Doh. This scent shoulders the burden of having both of these labels applied to it. As one who likes the synthetic notes of Beyond Paradise for Men and has no childhood trauma associated with Play-Doh I was looking forward to wearing this. The top of this starts off with a cherry-almond accord that is subtle, and not too sweet on me, there is something of a plastic quality to it like a supermarket package of cherries and almonds wrapped together which gives the "not quite from nature" feel to the top of this. That synthetic quality takes over in full in the heart as the cherries recede and a stronger deeper note presides, which does bear a similarity to Play Doh, but this is sweeter and along with this artificial note there are some natural notes of woods and incense to keep this grounded. The synthetic note fades to the background in the base and I continue to get hits of it but the woods along with vanilla are more prominent at this point in the development. This is one of those scents that gets put in the interesting category, for me. I won't be reaching for this on a regular basis but there will be days when this combination will seem like just the ticket.

    28th February, 2009

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    L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme by Guerlain

    Guerlain L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme

    L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme was created in 2004 by Beatrice Piquet and she has created a singular masculine scent in this one. So many masculine scents begin with a citrus and bergamot top note that I am almost disappointed when that isn't the first thing that hits my nose when "pour Homme" is on the bottle. Ms. Piquet starts with a tart citrus paired with a deep green note and anise. This is such an unusual start it makes me want to have it stick around but then I would miss the incredible mix of jasmine that rises out of these top notes by first seeming to come from a distance before eventually becoming the prominent note. The floral aspect of the jasmine begins to intertwine with a smoky tea note which cuts the sweet of the jasmine and adds an unexpected contrast to the heart of this. From here a mix of rosewood, patchouli and amber ground the scent. What is even more amazing is the citrus present in the top makes a surprising reappearance and the very slight acidity this adds to the base is like a reminder of the beauty of the beginning of this all over. This has "pour Homme" on the bottle but this is one of those that I would love to smell on a Femme.

    28th February, 2009

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    Rochas Lui by Rochas

    Rochas Lui

    I am a big fan of Rochas Man and am just now starting to try some of the other offerings from Rochas. First up is Michel Almairac's and Amandine Marie's, Rochas Lui. Lui starts off with the ubiquitous citrus note this time represented by neroli but what I like about this top is cedar is right there too. This is reminiscent of Gucci pour Homme but it isn't that deep cedar of pencil shavings. Lui presents a fresher cleaner cedar because of the presence of the neroli and because the neroli is more prominent. The top is also very intense for a top as the depth of the cedar makes for unexpected depth. I wish the top lasted longer because the heart feels so pedestrian on me there is a hint of sweet incense mixed with the cedar but as opposed to elevating the scent it feels like it has been geared down a notch. The base is a pretty nice mix of patchouli and vanilla which gets better over time. This is a scent which has its best moments at the beginning. This is an affordable good scent that I can easily recommend to those on a budget. There are better fragrances out there but you'll pay much more for them.

    28th February, 2009

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    Fierce for Men by Abercrombie & Fitch

    Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce

    Anybody who has shopped in a mall in the US that contains an Abercrombie & Fitch has smelled Fierce. Some stores pump it through their ventilation and others have SA's who have the job of spraying the mannequins every 20-30 minutes. As a red-blooded shopper I knew what I was going to get. As far as mass-acceptance scents go I think this is pretty good. Cristophe Laudamiel will always be better known for Burberry London, Theo Fennell Scent or S-ex here on Basenotes, but Fierce is far from an embarassment and in its ability to connect with a wider audience might be a more difficult task. That is for the philosophers to decide. For me, Fierce starts out with an agressive mix of citrus and spice. When it comes to the ubiquitous fresh top that seems to be desired these days this is a nice variation on that theme. Fierce then transitions into a pretty generic woody heart this is the least interesting phase of the development. The base is the best part as a combination of musk and amber weave together quite nicely. This is very much a young man's scent, appropriate to where it is being sold. I can't see going through this bottle very quickly but I also don't see getting rid of it as I have had far worse scents on my skin.

    28th February, 2009

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    Brit for Men by Burberry

    Burberry Brit for Men

    If you step up to any men's fragrance counter you will be bombarded by scents that have in their description "fresh and clean". For the general public that is clearly what sells, but for me it sometimes carries the stigma of saying "Danger, Will Robinson!" I think I know what I want fresh and clean to be and most of these scents do not meet that standard. Enter Burberry Brit for Men which was designed in 2004 by Antoine Maisondieu. This is an example of what I want fresh and clean to be. The start is citrus, bergamot and ginger and it is here that my main quibble with the scent comes out. It just starts too loud. The top of this projects off the skin like an olfactory typhoon. But in what is almost a hallmark of Burberry scents it is the drydown that is special (see Burberry London for Men as Exhibit A of this phenomenon). Once the winds die down a creamy and beautiful nutmeg and cedar accord arises. I am coming to realize that when it comes to clean, cedar is the note I want present and here the combination with nutmeg makes it different but still crisp. The base is musk and tonka and the progression is really quite nice as the cedar pulls back to give the base some room to breathe. I own a few of the "fresh and clean" crew and this one of the best examples I have.

    28th February, 2009

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    Nicole Miller for Men by Nicole Miller

    Nicole Miller for Men

    Ever since seeing the apple listed at the top of the pyramid this one has been of interest to me. The top of this is a tart green apple martini as the apple is mixed with a deep boozy note. What is quite eye-opening is the shift this one makes into the heart as we go from bright fruit to deep leather and oakmoss. This again shifts gears to soft amber and sandalwood to finish this one off beautifully. The bottle I have is a vintage bottle I bought on the sales board (thanks Ron199). I don't know if the re-issued version is reformulated and if it is significantly different. If it is, that would be a shame, because this is an entertainingly developing scent on my skin that will be a fun going-out scent for many years.

    28th February, 2009

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    Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Frederic Malle Noir Epices

    Frederic Malle's ideal to let perfumers have the freedom to create has produced, for me, one of my favorite houses. One reason I like these perfumes as much as I do is the sense of the unexpected I get every time I wear one. Michel Roudnitska in creating Noir Epices in 2000 displays all of the creativity envisioned by M. Malle. As I've come to sniff so many things; the most common beginning to many, many fragrances is citrus married with bergamot it becomes almost rote for my olfactory synapses to start to fire that way as soon as the first note of citrus hits my brain. Noir Epices was one of my first refreshing experiences that made me realize there are so many more wonderful things to pair with citrus. Michel Roudnitska creates a stiletto sharp citrus paired with geranium over all of this is the metal tang of aldehydes evaporating madly. Then peeking around the edges comes a beautiful rose to make this one of my favorite beginnings to any scent I've worn. As the aldehydes make their departure the titular spices enter the fray. First up is a sharp pepper paired with clove then the zing of cinnamon followed by the mellowing influence of nutmeg all mixing together on my skin with depth and power. The base is the only ordinary thing about this scent as patchouli ushers you into a cedar and sandalwood finish that is smooth and somewhat familiar. It is only at the base that I find anything pedestrian about this scent and perhaps with the fireworks that have taken place before one needs a little familiarity to bring one's feet back to earth. Michel Roudnitska has created a thoroughly modern scent that lives up to all of what Frederic Malle must have hoped for when he created Editions de Parfum.

    28th February, 2009

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    Gold Man by Amouage

    Amouage Gold for Men

    Wow where's the funeral?? Guy Robert has to have created the most intense floral opening I've experienced. This is like being locked in a flower shop overnight. The dominant notes on me seem to be jasmine and rose but I think I get hits of narcissus, tuberose, orange blossom, iris, and carnation. Robert claims to have been able to use whatever ingredients he wanted in composing this and it feels like he went to the shelf that held all of the floral oils and kept adding them in. It takes a good thirty minutes for anything to make itself known besides the floral and when it does it is incense which then leads to a civet and musk filled base leavened with a little wood. I like this but this is an example of when a nose can do whatever he wants, he perhaps goes too far. I could wish for a little less volume in the top and middle of this from the floral notes and more balance from the other notes

    28th February, 2009

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    Opium pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

    Yves St. Laurent Opium pour Homme.

    I used to love wearing this out to bars and clubs in the 90's and it was very often my preferred scent for those nights.
    What I loved about it was the spicy and sweet mix that was like nothing else I owned at the time. The pepper note in the heart was always a favorite and once it would settle into the vanilla and cedar at the base it would be the olfactory soundtrack to the end of a fun-filled evening.
    What Basenotes has helped with is my appreciation of the top of this fragrance. I don't remeber ever noticing the currant, at the top, cut ever so slightly by the anise. Now, these notes blossom right away and then fade into the spicy, hot heart of this that I still enjoy. I remember the base being more vanilla laden in my younger days but lately it is the cedar that dominates with the vanilla playing a supporting role and thus making it less sweet than I remembered. Either way this scent is still a favorite and while I have come to discover others with this spicy heart I like more (Ormonde Jayne Man, Patour pour Homme) this will be a baseline scent for me.

    28th February, 2009

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    Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

    Calvin Klein Obsession for Men

    If Opium was my party scent Obsession was my date scent. When this came out in the mid 80's I had become bored with both of my staples to that point Aramis and Ralph Lauren Polo. I remember going into my local Macy's to buy clothes and getting a whiff of this amazingly different scent coming from the nearby fragrance counter. When I walked over and the SA sprayed some on me although I didn't know what to call it at the time I had my first bout of the Basenotes Salute as my wrist kept returning to my nose over the entire rest of the day. I was back the next day buying the whole darn line: soap, body wash, deodorant, A/S, and EDT. I couldn't get enough of it for the next six months. What attracted me then was it was so different from the powerhouses of the 70's. The much softer spices in the middle of this which led to the amber/musk/sandalwood base which was what I thought smelled amazing on me and I thought was so nice on date night.
    Today I took more notice of the top notes as the bergamot and citrus top, which has become so prevalent in today's fragrances, leads perfectly into the softer spicy heart which makes this scent so enjoyable for me. The combination of nutmeg, sage, and coriander combine with lavender to give this a satiny soft heart. The base is the nicely balanced mix of musk, amber and sandalwood I recall. I think I notice the amber more these days because this is one of the notes I have grown to truly enjoy. I am almost surprised to be reminded how nicely it fits in with the other notes in the base without dominating.

    28th February, 2009

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

    If Jovan was the introduction, to most Americans, of musk as a perfume, Muscs Koublai Khan is musk elevated to its highest aspiration. For todays SnS it contains the animalic triple play of musk, civet and castoreum. Just typing those notes in might give one the thought that this is like what the cage cleaner at the zoo must smell like. On me this is about as far from that as one can get. This is a mix of so many things but I find this scent to be exotic and sophisticated. The top of this is a combination of cumin and rose and that combination leads straightaway to the heart of castoreum. In the base the hallmarks of many Serge Lutens scents vanilla and patchouli make their presence known and it feels like there is labdanum there but there is so much else on display that I might be fooling myself on that score. All throughout from beginning to end is the most incredibly rounded and beautiful musk I’ve worn. As the scent progresses the interplay between the musk and the notes in each phase create a luxurious one-of-a-kind experience on my skin. I recently had one of my colleagues pick me up a bell jar of this from the Paris Salon because I know this one will stay with me for the next thirty years.

    28th February, 2009

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    Montana Parfum d'Homme (original) by Montana

    Montana Parfum D'Homme (red box)

    I'm not a bottle person but the Devil's Tower-like bottle this one comes in, intrigued the Close Encounters geek in me. Not enough to try it. That came with the unabashed fans this one has and the comparisons to Aramis Havana, one of my favorites. It was with anticipation that I sprayed it on and was met with a very similar spicy citrus blast to Havana. This seems different as the lemon seems to show its dry side and I get the slightest tingle of aldehydes. This is a fleeting top and we progress quickly into the deep heart of this and here is where the spice takes over and the Oriental character bursts into life. There is a floral weave of rose, jasmine, and carnation. The clove character of carnation combines well with the cinnamon also present. The real star of the heart is the pine note that comes in and adds depth to the spice and counterpoint to the florals. The addition of this pine note is where Edouard Flechier turns this into a beauty. The pine note sticks around to lead the scent into the base which is chock-full of sandalwood and amber. I get little hints of patchouli and vanilla but this settles into pine, sandalwood and amber and it is a lovely place to end this journey. I get the comparisons to Havana but this is its own scent and in many ways as good or better than Havana. Really I think the more apt comparison is these were the kinds of scents prevalent in the early 90's, powerful Orientals. Montana Parfum D'Homme stands on its own, as tall as the monument the bottle looks like.

    28th February, 2009

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    Messe de Minuit by Etro

    Etro Messe de Minuit

    I am a huge fan of incense-forward scents and any scent named Midnight Mass is going to have me excited to try. Messe de Minuit was created in 2000 by Jacques Flori and I think he has come up with a very unique take on incense. Right from the top it starts with something that smells like the holiday wassail bowl from the church basement as a mix of citrus and cinnamon start this off. It doesn't take long for the incense and myrrh to come in and eventually take over. The heart is also cut with a skillful use of honey which adds depth and traditional sweetness to the more resinous sweet of the incense. The base notes of amber and patchouli add more warmth and mix with the heart notes making for a lovely intermingling of notes. I've seen this described as musty but on my skin I don't get a hint of that. On me this comes off as a very dry austere scent, there isn't anything that feels lush about it. Which is as it should be at Midnight Mass.

    28th February, 2009

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    Maxims pour Homme by Maxims

    Maxim's pour Homme

    When it comes to discontinued colognes there seem to be cults that spring up, the Patouists, the Montanaites, and the Maximistas. There is always the curiousity about whether it is just misplaced emotion or is the juice really that good. Maxim's pour Homme seems to be the victim of a grand plan gone bust. Dimitri in his Sorcery of Scent blog relates that Maxim's was created by Pierre Cardin in 1988 after acquiring the French restaurant Maxim's with dreams of taking it worldwide. The fact that there is no Maxim's in your local area should indicate the success of this venture. What I find interesting is the thought that a scent would be the first step to creating a brand. Nevertheless that was the path taken in 1988 and Maxim's pour Homme was created. The top of this is a solid lavender which leads striaght to a heart of jasmine and spicy carnation. According to the notes bergamot and a "fruit note" are supposed to be present but right from the beginning I get a strong floral character. It takes a while but the sandalwood and cedar appear and move this into a different stage as they eventually push the floral notes to the background. The base is a delicately balanced patchouli and musk on me which is really nice. I like that this scent has three distinct stages from floral to woody to musky. It doesn't feel like the longevity is going to be very good as two hours in I'm already feeling it is starting to fade away. This is a good scent and if you see a bottle floating around your local flea market or at a discounter I'd say go for it. If this ever becomes one of those scents that commands a premium because it is discontinued that's when I'd say buyer beware. For me, I don't think I'm joining the ranks of the Maximistas just yet but over time they may get me yet.

    28th February, 2009

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    Jovan Musk for Men by Jovan

    I sprayed it on and my initial impression was “Ouch!”. The top verged on being harsh and it was very loud as citrus and spice seared their way into my consciousness. I was beginning to think my 14-year old self had a much stronger constitution than my current incarnation. Then just like that too loud person you meet at your high school reunion who first bowls you over with too much information but then eventually lapses back into the personality you remember you liked; so too does Jovan Musk for Men. Once the top burns off, fairly quickly, there is a straight-forward lavender and woods before the musk makes its appearance in the base. As this dries down the musk takes a solo turn on my skin and really smells very nice. The longevity is not so great but for something that is less than $10 a bottle I think it is certainly adequate.

    28th February, 2009

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    Héritage by Guerlain

    Guerlain Heritage

    Heritage was created in 1992 by Jean-Paul Guerlain. It was his concept to try and take the best of all of the Guerlain masculine scents and combine them into a scent that would represent the heritage of masculine fragrance making at Guerlain. I am a big fan of all of those scents and I was curious to see whether Heritage would be successful at achieving this lofty goal. The opening is classic as it uses lavender and bergamot cut with a little bit of citrus to make a powerful start. Funnily on me for a scent that is supposed to remind me of Guerlain masculine scents the beginning of this is more reminiscent of Shalimar. That impression is banished very quickly as pepper and coriander become the prominent players. This combination is spicy and does recall a masculine Guerlain, Habit Rouge. This comparison continues into the base as patchouli is the note that carries this scent to the classic "Guerlinade" of tonka and vanilla. I'm not sure that this is the synthesis of all of the Guerlain masculine scents that Jean-Paul Guerlain was going for but it is heavily laden with many of the accords and notes Guerlain is famous for and it displays its heritage, pun intended, proudly.

    28th February, 2009

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