I recently smelled Le Labo's Poivre 23 at the Le Labo counter at Liberty's in London and was pretty disappointed. From all the reviews I'd read beforehand and given its apparent emphasis on pepper which is one of my favorite notes in perfumery, I was sure I would love it. And I didn't. Not even a little bit.
To me, Poivre 23 is chiefly a sweet ambery fragrance to which has been added a glug of vanilla, dollop of tobacco and a meager sprinkling of pepper. It smells like an inexpensive, cheap-ish cousin to Le Labo's Patchouli 24 (which I like but in very sparing amounts as further explained in that review) and shares a number of the same notes.
If you want a quality "rev up your engines" pepper fragrance that you will never smell on another person, I'd highly recommend Ormonde Jayne's Isfarkand. For a stylish, red cashmere turtleneck sort of pepper perfume, there is the endlessly exquisite L'Artisan Parfumeur's Poivre Piquant.
Here are Poivre 23's notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: pepper, cistus labdanum, incense, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, gaiac and styrax.
I smelled Terre de Sarment recently at Les Senteurs in London and was very impressed. It is a wonderful manly sort of fragrance which has leather, birch tar and bergamot notes calmed down by a light floral overlay. In short, Terre de Sarment is quite elegant and my boyfriend loved it!
Here are the notes for Terre de Sarment, per The Perfumed Court: top notes of grapefruit, neroli and cumin; middle notes of incense, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange flowers and myrrh; and base notes of benzoin, amyris, vanilla and tobacco.
After having heard all the praise about Byredo's Pulp, I couldn't wait to try it. The first time was this past autumn at Colette in Paris and the second time was a month later at Les Senteurs in London. Even now, I am still wondering ........ what is the big deal about this perfume?? On me, Pulp is basically a grapefruit scent which evolves into black currant, blackberry and various other fruits. It is powerful and smells a lot like those sharp-ish fruity perfumes created by Jo Malone such as her Wild Fig and Cassis (which I don't like).
I guess one of the other reasons I am also intrigued by Pulp is due to a story that I recently read on-line. Apparently a perfumista/bride-to-be wanted to have Pulp as the signature scent at her wedding and so obtained the church's permission to have several bottles of the not-inexpensive Pulp liberally sprayed before and during (hopefully discreetly) the church service so that her she, her groom and her guests would would forever associate Pulp with her wedding day.
Courtesy of The Perfumed Court, here are the notes for Pulp: top notes of bergamot, cardamom and blackcurrant; middle notes of red apple, fig and tiare; and base notes of cedar wood, praline and peach flower.
888 is one of my current favorite perfumes but it is so artfully blended and unusual that I can't figure it out. For some reason, I always think I smell a bit of red or black grape in 888 (a la Mona di Orio's Nuit Noire). At other times it seems like a wonderful spicy mixture of white flowers (esp. orange flower) and white musk. The "official" information put out by Comme des Garcons is that 888 is meant to smell like gold but whatever it is, it always smells wonderful and "like me". And like a magpie attracted to shiny objects, I can't get enough of 888's stylishly flat gold bottle. Divine!
Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes for 888: "Safraline (a molecular derivative of saffron, created by Givaudan), pepperwood, curcuma, coriander, geranium and amber."
Simply put, Le Labo's Labdanum 18 smells like an expensive sweet-ish amber baby powder from top note to base note. It is is similar smell-wise Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs and just as horribly cloying and awful. Le Labo makes so many wonderful, original perfumes and I am perplexed that Labdanum 18 is one of theirs.
From what I can find, here are the notes for Labdanum 18: "labdanum (cistus) with a slightly animalic notes".
Given all the mystique enhanced by odd names and at least one nose-scruncher in the Etat Libre d'Orange line (guess which one that is!), I was a little wary of "Je Suis Un Homme". Well, I needn't have been because it is a relatively tame fragrance that smells like a variation on the theme of citrusy eau de cologne for men. In fact, I am surprised that Etat Libre d'Orange bothered to make this perfume at all as it just doesn't have any shock factor.
Je Suis Un Homme is basically an inoffensive mixture of Petit Grain, Bergamot and Musk which is competent but doesn't knock my socks off. I think I'll stick with Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet, Roger et Gallet's Extra Vieille and Rochas' Eau de Rochas when I'm in the mood for a light citrus perfume.
Here are the notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: bergamot, orange bigarade, citron, myrtle, cinnamon, clove, cognac accord, leather, patchouli and animalic notes.
I was expecting a fresh peppery perfume from Lorenzo Villoresi's Piper Nigrum but instead, in the top and middle notes I experienced mostly whiffs of pungently fresh oregano and thyme. Piper Nigrum is one of the more astringent fragrances I've ever smelled and while it is not awful, it sure isn't very likeable. Once the base note finally appears, I will concede that Piper Nigrum has a distinct black pepper aspect but I am not crazy about the journey to get there.
If you want a superb and exciting pepper fragrance that you will never smell on another person, I'd highly recommend Ormonde Jayne's Isfarkand. For a stylish, English country house sort of pepper perfume, there is the faultlessly exquisite L'Artisan Parfumeur's Poivre Piquant.
Amouage's Dia is a lush, slightly heavy floriental-style perfume with aldehydes, powder, frankincense and a touch of bergamot. Dia is a warmer fragrance than its sister perfume Gold and mellows into a beautiful fragrance that reminds me something that an elegant woman living in London in the early 1930's would spray on prior to putting on her white fox fur stole and going out into the evening. Amouage Dia is perhaps even more beautiful when it has had a chance to dry down and is a close cousin smell-wise to Chanel No. 5. I liked smelling Dia for testing purposes but I can't really imagine wearing or buying it as it is a little formal for my lifestyle.
Here are the notes, from The Perfumed Court: Fig, Cyclamen, Bergamot, Tarragon, Sage, Violet Leaves, Bush Peach Blossoms, Rose Oil, Orange Flower, Peony, Orris, White Musk, Incense, Vanilla, Heliotrope, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, and Gaiac Wood.
Amouage Gold smells very similar to their Dia fragrance with Gold being the lighter of the two lush floral perfumes and having a bit less of the spicy oriental notes. Thanks to the iris and violet notes, Gold has a "cooler" smell than Dia but they both share the same powdery base which is reminiscent of Chanel No. 5. Between the two Amouage perfumes, I have a slight preference for Dia probably due to the presence of bergamot (and the absence of iris) but neither of them are "me" at all. They both seem heavy and rather formal.
Here are the notes for Amouage Gold, as listed on The Perfumed Court: rose, jasmine and lily of the valley, apricot, lime and peach, silver frankincense, myrrh, orris,"rock rose of the desert", ambergris, civet and musk.
Bulgari Black starts off with a warm, almost rice pudding note. It is a velvety fragrance and though it is apparently for men, I could easily imagine wearing it myself. As it dries down there is a very faint rubber/leather smell which I really only found by having read about those notes. If I hadn’t, I don’t know that I would have detected them as they are not dominant notes in the composition. The best way I can describe Bulgari Black is that it is a soft yet translucent, vanilla musk fragrance with a mild hint of coconut, cinnamon and powder. Which doesn’t do it a lot of justice as Bulgari Black really is much more stylish and modern than these words indicate. It also reminds me a good deal of a current favorite of mine – Le Labo Aldehyde 44. And finally, no question about it, that is one sexy little bottle!
Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes for Bulgari Black: black tea, rosewood, bergamot, cedar, oakmoss, vanilla, amber, sandalwood and musk.
Well, if anyone has a hankering for the smelling like Grandma’s mothball stuffed hall closet, look no further because Serge Luten’s Tubereuse Criminelle is for you! I scrunched up my nose so hard when I smelled this – it was teeth-gnashingly revolting. Tubereuse Criminelle’s vaunted top note is a cross between mothballs and the bitterness you get when you take a swig of mentholated Dayquil. Yeah, yeah, a decent tubereuse smell eventually emerges but I just could not get past that nauseating mothball initial note.
For a beautiful creamy floral without any olfactory pain, I much prefer Serge Lutens’ Un Lys to this.
As gleaned from various sources on the internet, here are Tubereuse Criminelle’s notes: menthol, tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, vanilla, clove and banana.
Guerlain’s Quand Vient la Pluie is yet another classic offering from Guerlain which showcases the super-sweet, vanilla-ish “Guerlainade” base to perfection. If you take that base and add black cherries and violets, that is what Quand Vient la Pluie smells like to me. I have to confess that I really don’t like this style of perfume and can’t imagine wearing it, however, for an incredibly sweet perfume, the notes are true and it seems to be of very high quality and well made.
Per The Perfume Court, here are the notes: Top:bergamot, orange blossom and rosemary; Heart: heliotrope, jasmine and violet; Base: patchouli, praline and musks.
La Perla Eclix is a sweet, soft lemon fragrance which definitely belongs in the “foody perfume” cupboard. I agree somewhat with others who have likened it to lemon meringue pie but I also detect smidgens of flour and vanilla notes so I am going to say that Eclix smells more like a lemon angel food cake. I think if I wore this with any regularity, I would start craving sweets! However, Eclix is certain to please a gourmand perfume afficionado who enjoys citrus. I was a bit surprised to learn that Eclix had so many “official” notes (see below) as none of them were apparent to my nose.
Here are the notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: bergamot, blackcurrant leaves, osmanthus, waterlily, may rose, almond blossom, exotic woods, cocoa and white musk.
Etro’s Shaal Nur is a dark oriental fragrance whose semi-acrid top note reminded me of Estee Lauder’s style of perfume – Youth Dew in particular. I also caught fleeting whiffs of saffron and amber which petered out after about 10 minutes. As the middle notes of vanilla and incense crept in and softened things up, Shaal Nur became a much more likeable and wearable fragrance. My overall impression of Shaal Nur is that it has a cozy “frankincense and myrrh” vibe and is definitely a fragrance for colder weather. Despite the listed notes below, I cannot say that I detected any citrus, rose or narcissus at all but then I dabbed it on which seems to produce different results than spraying.
In terms of comparison, if you like cuddliness of Shaal Nur, you would also enjoy Cristiano Fissore’s Cashmere for Women or the Ormonde Jayne line.
Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes: citrus, rose, narcissus, karo karounde, jonquil, incense, vanilla and spices.
Jo Malone’s Grapefruit perfume starts off sharp-ish but then is toned down with white flowers so that it becomes a very tame, light fragance. The vetiver in the middle and base notes give it some warmth and depth and is probably why some reviewers characterize it as a masculine perfume. Jo Malone’s Grapefruit doesn’t have the zing that I adore in Aqua Allegoria’s Pamplelune or the cheerfully unabashed zestiness of Frederic Malle’s Bigarade Concentree, but Jo Malone’s Grapefruit is a competent scent that will likely appeal to a man or a woman who doesn’t want to smell overly “perfumey” but wants to smell “clean”. Ho hum.
Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes: grapefruit, tangerine, vetiver and rosemary.
Eau de Rochas Pour Homme starts off a little sharp but in less than a minute, it opens up to become a lovely warm elegant men's fragrance. It is an elegant mix of citrus with dashes of cedar and vetiver.
For those of you who know and love Eau de Rochas, Pour Homme is a richer scent that I could easily imagine my boyfriend wearing in the fall whereas Eas de Rochas is chiefly a summery citrus perfume. Cap d'Antibes and all that.
Having said all this, it is important to keep in mind that Pour Homme is a very light fragrance and doesn't last all that long (maybe 30 minutes) so perhaps it would be a good choice for a man that is a little hesitant about smelling strongly of cologne. It would be awesome if Rochas were to offer an "extreme" version of this!
Here are the notes: vetiver, mandarin, grapefruit, verbena, mountain narcissus, cedar, patchouli, wild rose, ambre, myrrh and sandalwood.
I adore a good vetiver fragrance and was anxious to try Andy Tauer's interpretation. However, I found Vetiver Dance to be pretty disappointing.
Plainly put, Vetiver Dance is a soapy boring vetiver with hints of iris in the top note that gives it a rooty, almost depressing feel. Despite the listed notes, I definitely did not smell any pepper. I am huge pepper fan and adore Ormonde Jayne's Isfarkand and Frederic Malle's Angelique Sous la Pluie. If anything, Vetiver Dance is a "cold" vetiver as opposed to Guerlain's various Vetiver scents which are warm and confident. If anything, Vetiver Dance is a "cold" vetiver as opposed to Guerlain's various Vetiver scents which are warm and confident. Annick Goutal's Vetiver and i Profumi di Firenze's "Fresco di Vetiver" absolutely blow Vetiver Dance away in terms of creativeness and overall wearabililty. I'd save my money and pass on this.
Here are the notes for Vetiver Dance, courtesy of The Perfumed Posse: grapefruit, black pepper, clary sage, lily of the valley, cedar wood, ambergris, tonka and dark vetiver from Java.
I had really hoped that Chypre Fatal might be the fragrance to counteract my cursed luck in finding a Guerlain to love. Alas, it was not to be. I am a huge fan of dry chypre perfumes (Chanel's 31 Rue Cambon, Hermes' Caleche, Piguet's Bandit and YSL's Y are some of my all-time favorites) and I especially adore Caleche's mossy, almost citrus/astringent quality. However, Guerlain's Chypre Fatal has that sweet-ish Guerlain base that I find so sugary and cloying that it really takes away the pleasure of smelling the chypre notes. As the fragrance settles down to its basenotes, it acquires a non-descript "perfumey" smell that is just kind of average, department-storeish, etc... Ho hum. If I am going to veer towards the land of sweet chypres, I would much prefer to do so in the competent arms of YSL Yvresse or Dior's Diorama.
Here are the notes for Chypre Fatal, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: White Peach, Rose, Patchouli & Vanilla.
Enslaved is a heavy, one-dimensional perfume that smells chiefly like old fashioned ladies powder, ie. loose powder in a cylindrical container that comes with a luxurious white powder puff. I detected a tiny bit of spiciness in the fragrance which I guess was the carnation and clove trying to get out but, it was firmly "enslaved" by the unrelenting Mistress Powder! None of other notes listed below were detectable. For comparison purposes, Enslaved reminded me a lot of that other cloyingly robust powder fragrance, Etat Libre d'Orange's "Rien" (aka "Dorian Gray").
In the powder/aldehyde genre of perfumery, I much prefer Hermes' Rouge or Le Labo's Aldehyde 44 to Enslaved.
Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes: Bergamot, Orange, Lemon, Geranium, Orange Blossom, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Carnation, Clove, Oakmoss, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Patchouli, Labdanum, Ambergris and Musk.
Miller et Bertaux's "Green, Green, Green, Green's" top note smells just like the scent of a freshly broken branch of a young tree mixed with a generous helping of fresh coriander. It is quite bracing and almost too sharp to my nose. However, after about 5-10 minutes, lemon verbena and jasmine arrive to prune back the sharp green claws and then it evolves into a soft lemony floral fragrance which is clearly well made. I detected a slight hint of vetiver in the end but this fragrance dies pretty quickly so you really have to be on the lookout for it.
Similar perfumes to Green, Green, Green, Green (what an annoying name!) are: a) Hampton Sun's Privet Bloom which is a tiny bit fresher and prettier, and b) Nanadebary Green which is warmer and has a more pronounced green tea note.
Here are the notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: laurel, bay leaves, verbena, sap, coriander, jasmine, cedar, vetiver and musk.
Montale’s Embruns d’Essouira is a refreshing marine/algae scent that I enjoyed very much. My first thought upon sniffing was thank goodness it was not another “faux beachy” scent, ie. another variation on the smell of Coppertone Sun Tan Lotion (Yoohoo- Bobbi Brown Beach, Philosophy!). In contrast, Embruns d’Essouira smells nearly exactly like the smell you experience when you are at the ocean sitting on the sand at the edge of the water, and the waves rush up around you tinged with green algae. It is also a much lighter style than I am used to seeing from Montale (another plus), and I thought it was pretty interesting and wearable. Finally, Embruns d’Essouira was good on me but I think it would really rock on a man!
Here are the notes, as gleaned on the internet: Iodine from the water of Essaouira, Moroccan Atlas sandalwood, spices, musk, Yemeni Oud, Oman olibanum pearls, frankincense, Egyptian balsam, Cystus ladaniferus and amber.
Acqua Allegoria's Herba Fresca is a soft minty fragrance that smells like freshly torn mint leaves if you subtract out any possible sharpness. As the fragrance mellows, hints of thyme, marjoram and grass come through but it is all handled in an extremely light way. If I really put my mind to it, I can smell the green tea and lemona verbena notes. It reminds me a lot Comme des Garcons' Peppermint perfume except that Herba Fresca is a tiny bit sweeter. In any event, Herba Fresca conjures up wonderful images of a summer evening on a stone terrace at a farmhouse deep in Provence surrounded by a lush herb garden.
Here are the notes, courtesy of Sephora: Citrus, Clover Leaf, Italian Lemon, Peppermint, Green Tea, Lily of the Valley, Cyclamen, Pear Blossom. (SSS) 8/10
The Escentric Molecules line has been responsible for one of the most exciting perfumes I've ever smelled (Escentric 01's smoky lime/pepper/cedar rush) and also one of the most frustrating (Molecule 01's faint, disappearing cedar water on skin).
So, with eyes (and nose) wide open, I tried Escentric 02 which struck me as being very similar to Escentric 01 but without the lime or pepper, or stellar longevity. Escentric 02 definitely has a generous helping of ISO E Super- its cedary, woody notes are pronounced- but its real mission is apparently to showcase the synthetic molecule called Ambroxan. According to my internet research, Ambroxan is meant to smell like ambergris which is "a waxy substance occasionally produced in the large intestine of sperm whales". It'd be interesting to know who figured out that ambergris could be of such use in perfumery!
Anyways, to me, 02 has pronounced cedar/wood notes but it also has blended non-specific floral notes, which veer into a little musky/powderiness. It is one of the harder fragrances I've ever had to describe because it does not smell like anything I've ever smelled before, other than its cousin Escentric 01. In closing, thumbs up to Escentric 02 for being quirky, original and (thankfully) non-sweet with decent longevity.
Here are the notes, courtesy of Luckyscent: Ambroxan, vetiver, muscone, orris, elderflower.
Remember that inexpensive super-pungent 80's fragrance, "Jungle Gardenia"? Well, one of the best niche perfume lines have produced a reinterpretation. I know that gardenia is not one of the listed notes but to my nose, biehl's hb01 is a dead-ringer for it. One sniff and I guarantee you"ll be transported back to the days of big hair, shoulder pads and lots of makeup. Hb 01 is a big jolt of gardenia with a tiny bit of spice (cumin, maybe?) in the top note. The middle/base notes are basically tuberose and other white flowers which turns hb 01 into a close cousin of Giorgio (loud, vulgar, obvious floral).
As gardenia scents go, I much prefer Chanel Gardenia (understated stylish gardenia) and Monyette Paris (luscious, tropical gardenia) to hb 01. Or, if you just want a truly beautiful elegant floral perfume, I'd highly recommend biehl's mb 01 over this.
Here are the notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: top: orange blossom, blackcurrant, peach, gardenia, green leaves, bergamot, Middle: rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, iris, tuberose, ylang ylang, Base: vanilla, cedar, sandalwood, musk.
The top note of Heeley's Cardinal perfume was an astringent dry, soap smell that rushed through my nose to the back to my throat. I truly felt like I was tasting soap. Cardinal was that pervasive (or should I say, invasive?) And I applied it sparingly! After about an hour, Cardinal calmed down to become an austere, powdery green fragrance that reminded me a great deal of Balmain's Ivoire. At around hour 3, Cardinal became became rather nice but I am much too impatient to wait that long for a fragrance to develop.
I know Cardinal is much revered in certain perfume circles as a "reference incense" and all that, but I think that Comme des Garcons' Kyoto and Ouarzazate are much wearable and pleasant than this.
Here are Cardinal's notes, courtesy of LuckyScent: incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli, vetiver.
I know others may love this but Voleur de Ciels smelled absolutely horrible on me. The topnote gave off awful wafts of cheapish amber and what smelled just like (I hate to say this but....) sweet-ish decaying, rotting flesh. Like the smell of a piece of raw meat that's been forgotten in the back of your refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Oh dear, Voleur de Ciels was disgusting and I could not wash it off fast enough so I cannot tell you what the middle and basenote were like. Also, for some reason, Voleur de Ciels reminded me a lot of Neil Morris' Coral.
Here are the notes: wood, chypre, mint, jasmine, milky notes and leather.
Simply put, Tan Rokka's Aki is the lovechild of Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu and Shalimar. Aki is a sweet-ish, predominantly amber/sandalwood fragrance with a great deal of powder and a smattering of spices. It is surprisingly strong so be sure to apply it sparingly as this is one of those perfumes that could easily end of "wearing you"! As compared to Aki, I much prefer Becker Eshaya's Golden Amber for amber, or 10 Corso Como or Diptyque's Tam Dao for sandalwood.
Here are Aki's notes, courtesy of The Perfumed Court: amber, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.
Acqua di Biella's Janca is a light fruity floral scent with dominant notes of peach and linden. Stylistically, it is very similar the floral perfumes offered by Annick Goutal such as Petite Cherie, Eau de Charlotte, etc.... It is not nearly as complex as the notes below would seem to suggest and I did not catch any iris - which is good since I don't care for its mustiness. Overall, I think that Janca could be a lovely casual fragrance to wear in the summertime as it wouldn't unduly amplify in the heat. Lastly, as is typical of this style of perfume, Janca does not have good sillage. It lasted about 45 minutes on my skin.
Here are the notes listed on the Acqua di Biella website: Florentine iris, peach, tamarind, mandarin, linden, osmanthus, magnolia, cardamom, musk, cedarwood and patchouli.
Demeter is so good at creating ultra-realistic single note fragrances that it really makes it hard to write an interesting review about one of their perfumes. Riding Crop smells just like you'd expect it to- it is a warm, manly fragrance that smells just like a piece of new leather. Smelling it immediately conjured up thoughts of walking into a boutique that is piled high with all sorts of new leather equestrian goods.
I think Riding Crop could be very useful to layer with if you are into that sort of thing. But, would I wear Riding Crop on its own? Probably not. If I'm gonna smell like leather, I think Le Labo's Santal 26 and Heeley's Cuir Pleine Fleur are much more wearable and stylish (at least for a woman).
Here's the lone note: leather.
I really did not see what the big deal was about Valentino Gold. It had an overall generic "sweet perfumey" smell that was utterly unremarkable. At the beginnning I think I may have caught a hint of mandarin but after that note quickly evaporated, Gold smelled like an average department store perfume. Even Fendi's Palazzo was more interesting than this! Methinks a certain Italian clothes designer sold his name (and reputation) to a giant beauty licensing firm for big bucks without caring what was produced....
Here are Gold's notes from what I've been able to find on the internet: Mandarin, Key West Lime, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Ginger Water Lily, Sandalwood, Blue Iris, White Musk.