I was lucky enough to sample Sartorial at the early stages of development and now it has arrived, like Hermes leather, Catherine Deneuve and friendship; it has evolved beautifully into something almost perfect, as if it has always been there. It is autumn here in Edinburgh, the air is chilling, and the streets darkening, shadows guttering as I walk home. The city always feels more haunted at this time of the year than at any other, the beautiful Georgian architecture flickering with memories of past betrayals, proud love and bitter desire. It can be a brutal raw elemental city, but its heart is soft and warm, with a steady beat, liquid and emotive. Each night I walk home through the shifting streets, I think how appropriate this scent is for right now......waxy with honeyed tones and gentle velvet warmth, for nights when events seem large and insurmountable, but then you realise the scale of things and your priorities. Simple things will warm you; simple things will make you smile. The sudden familiarity of scent on a scarf, the fall of a strap from a shoulder, the unbuttoning of a shirt, an eye catching an eye as you cross the street. And your heated smile as you head home.....
Bertrand Duchaufour has honed and smoothed Sartorial beautifully with olfactory dexterity and alchemical sleight of hand. It is an extraordinary experience, the scented re-creation of a Savile Row cutting room. The ozonics fizzing away as the scent opens are not aquatics but steam notes to represent traditional cloth being pressed. There are chalk and dust notes bedded through the lavender and oakmoss. 'Old wood' effects for old tobacco-stained cabinetry, machine oil and metallic scissor effects with tints of old paper patterns captured in the weird vanillic drydown. The most beautiful note is the beeswax running through it, sweet, animalic and moreish. They use blocks of wax in traditional cutting rooms to coat the threads before stitching. This melts so well into the violet, geranium and classic fougère notes. I found it thrillingly melancholy, muted and hauntingly grey, full of autumnal power, like wearing a bespoke suit home in the damp air of a dark city night, one's mind bubbling with worries and the prospect perhaps of love and light at home.
This is unsettling scent. Wearing it, you feel stalked, observed, watched a little too closely. A strange sensation to say the least. Nothing that closety about it to my mind, quite the opposite in fact, like a sly and beautiful besuited man sliding his eyes over you on a crowded train. The imagination fires up and scenarios unfold, all so tempting, but you know the reality might be humdrum and terribly suburban. (As an aside....One of my favourite smells is nail varnish, not really sure why, up there with cold plastic, tar, ink and other oddities that rock my boat. This reeks of it, all acetones and violet-tinted indulgence with a sparkling raspberry sexiness all tucked away under that workday suit.) Are there lipstick traces, trails of hair spray, whiffs of leather and darkness as you step off the train behind him? To follow or not to follow, not that is the question.
Dirty and weird, can’t stop returning to it. This fragrance has always smelt dangerous and sexy to me, like assignations in turn of the century Turkish baths, voices lost in time and steam. I know it’s changed over the years, but I still love its animalic riot of vanilla, musks and lemon. I wore this when I was far too young for it and probably smelt like one of those jaded boys sprawled at the feet of Oscar Wilde as he trawled the darker seas of London’s sexual waters. MdM is still one of the greatest Orientals for men of all time, a genuine journey back through time that packs an emotive punch of considerable sensual and heritage power. Wearing it spins you dizzyingly back to Belle Epoque Paris: wide boulevards, the click of horse drawn cabs, the coded wink of an eye, the flourish of a beautiful hand, the allure of gilded youth and a sense that just about anything might be possible.
By rights, this should not work. But is succeeds beautifully, the soft warm pull of taffy with a tantalizing whiff of salt and creamy stretches of vanilla. It is no secret to those that know me and inhale me that I love Lempicka fragrances and the work of Roucel, so this crème bruleé scented wonder has been a favourite of mine for a while now. Salt or the impression of salt is very difficult to execute in scent and yet when done with grace and just the right amount of almost culinary panache it can be astounding. It is all about seasoning. Getting the balances right. L is an exercise in potentially teeth-aching sweetness tempered by a subtle and rounded use of darker, more hidden influences. Like an enchanted object falling through the sea, glittering to attract the eye, L draws you in, laying down trails of sweetness to lure you down into billowy, forgetful depths. As the spell binds, reality creeps in; the sweetness twists and turns, confusing you. Suddenly you are drowning, sea water flooding through you. Then you open your eyes, you are on the beach, the sun is shining, the scent of caramelised golden suncream rising off your skin. Something glitters in the sand.....
This is the smell of snow and powdered almonds. I want to spin and spin, fingers in the air, reaching for the brooding sky, snowflakes silently muffling everything around me, until I can longer even hear my own voice call out. This weird and wonderful scent seemed to vanish next to its dark and melancholy Eau Noir sibling, but it’s voice is angelic, almost to pure to be heard by mere mortals. The bite of citrus is the snap of winter under the delicate dusting of almonds and sugar. Yes it is a little chilly, but like a winter kiss from frozen lips it is the impression that lingers and later warms the heart.
Now I don’t like patchouli. So why the hell did this just wrap me up tight and obsess me so? The quality of the patchouli shines like a burning light, almost white in its clarity and beauty. As soon as the curve arced off my skin I knew I was in trouble. I ran my tongue across my own wrist; I just had to know what it tasted like. If it smelt that good, then surely it had to taste like the walls of heaven. The patchouli note literally collides with rose and shatters all around you, splinters of purple and red slowly rolling through charged particles of heated air. I wore it out to a small dark underground cocktail bar, everybody noticed. I gave off heat like a crackling sinful ember. Papal, dirty and highly charged, what more could you want from a fragrance?
I just put some of this firewater on to sit and write this. Suddenly I’m Jungle James, draped around my treehouse, languorous in birchcloth briefs, waiting for my man to come swinging home on a vine. It’s hot, hell I’m hot. Sandalwood leaves and spices burning up a scented storm. I smell plums. Steady now. Sticky fruit, oh when will the rains come? I am dying here.....I pick up a banana leaf and move to the window, stare out over the forest canopy, wafting warm sweet air over my skin. A crack of thunder, an echoing cry. I see the leaves parting below. I’ll apply some more...just in case of rain.
Sinful sake. A weird and creepily compulsive cocktail of citrus, powder and play doh. Olivier Polge does very strange things from time to time and never hits the great heights of Dior Homme, but his forays into cyberspace sometimes bear fruit. I still don’t know if I like this actually, I know it’s good, I know I smell good in it, people tell me so. But sampling the sweet, rubbery coca cola powder off my skin I think I might smell like a an android with synthetic skin you can push in and watch it slowly reform. There is something transgressive about Power, perhaps falling in love with a robot and knowing it is programmed to love you and that is enough.
I have already posted a review of the lovely Lann Ael by the same house, Lostmarc’h. This small Breton fragrance house is intriguing and charming. Atao, which means ‘always’ in Breton, is their men’s scent, a sleek citrus with lots of rosemary spiked through the usual lemon, lime and bergamot mix. Normally not my thing at all, but I love its clarity and piercing coolness. The bottle is overprinted with an image of a sailing boat and actually this scent could be described as classic wood cutting though water and air, sun burning down on faded decks. The crack of sails above, sea spray in the air and that warm joy of connecting to the elements as you lie back and close your eyes, fingers dangling in the sudden shock of cold sea.
These Memo scents are strange creatures, transparent and ghostly almost. Ethereal interpretations of times, moods and destinations. Siwa is cereals, vanilla and aldehydes, so soft as to be almost haunting. Like walking through an abandoned holiday villa but knowing you still feel the traces of parties before you. I know gourmands are now everywhere, leaking their sugars, caramels and chocolates into an already sticky atmosphere, but I found myself oddly addicted to this. Popcorn and whisky are listed in the notes and it does have a whisper of Glayva, a weird whisky liqueur I sipped in my teenage years, with pretentions to sophistication. It smells like well made white chocolate on my skin, with little traces of spice as it settles, the popcorn thing? Who knows…..maybe it’s the lick of nut butter? I went through three bottles before getting bored. Can’t really explain why I liked it so much, it just smelled so good on, deeply comforting and so …white. Actually, thinking about it now, maybe the popcorn note explains the lack of control I had with Siwa, constantly reapplying and inhaling. I find with popcorn, once I start I just can’t stop.
Now I hate the Prada stamp of fragrance, the ever-so carefully constructed idea of high street luxury scent. It really irritates me. All the scents are mediocre and vapid. Like air from balloons, steam from kettles, debate from politicians, best dispersed high into the air away from all forms of life. The men’s are the worst offenders. Metallic, flat and totally lacking in imagination. If even a tiny amount of the fashion house’s flair had been applied to the scents we might have something nearing charm and eccentricity. But no, we have the scented equivalent of GQ models, airbrushed, oiled, blue-tinted and very very bland. I know they sell in huge quantities, but that means nothing. Millions of people buy John Grisham novels…..formulaic, safe and you know what’s gonna happen. Same idea. Now I like iris, love it treated properly, with respect, aged, macerated, applied to scent with discretion and imagination. But you know what; it is slaughtered here, lost amid the ozonic boredom. This scent is office drone personified.
I bought this for my partner, a Breton, to remind him of home. I think Lyn Harris is very talented, her olfactory work is charming, sly and so pretty. I don’t like some scents, but others are glorious. L’air de Rien is filthygorgeous and Feuilles de Tabac is dark and autumnally slutty. Fleurs de Sel was created to remind Lyn of Batz-sur-Mer where they manufacture world famous sea salt. The conjuring up of salt water edged with grasses, iris and narcissi is remarkable. The vetiver base with moss is perfectly judged and the whole scent comes together with tremendous power. It is incredibly heady and on the skin has that magnificent dried down sea salt on hot skin scent that hardly anyone has truly managed to pin down in fragrance form. Like a painting by Corot, dry and green, drenched in warm pixillated light, textured to perfection. You can hear birdsong, reeds rustling; smell the iodine from the salt in the air. Breathe; Lyn has made her finest scent.
There is sense of heightened vulgarity with Black Orchid, something only just on the right side of restaurant clearing. Every generation gets the Giorgio it deserves. Black Orchid is ours. You can taste in the air in almost every bar you go into these days, even smell it rolling off hen parties as they reel brutally around drunken streets.
Now I adore Tom Ford, but sometimes even I stop and think; it’s all so plastic, porno and unoriginal. He will never be Yves, or Halston or anyone with real discernable talent. Sure, he can market, sell sex and he is a triumph of his own botoxed, glassy pr machine. Look at his movie; a cold, sterile adman’s dream dressed up as boutique merchandising and frustrated desire. It’s clever stuff, we get blindsided by the man himself, the almost mythic feel to his so called Midas touch. His early Texan acting lessons were not wasted. This smelt BIG when it appeared, like Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives, brash, loud and full of over heated sex. The images were dripping in retro atmosphere, we were supposed to think of Hayworth and Harlow, Colbert and Crawford, claws glazed, draped over impossible men. Whereas in fact The Black Orchid is mutton dressed as leopard, trying ever so hard to impress. More is never enough, she might say to herself, sashaying into the night, plants and animals wilting behind her in her truffled, indolic, musk-laden wake.
How good is this scent? Bought it on a whim and totally shocked myself with how butch it was. Beautiful smoky grey lingering fougère, rounded and softly finished. It has great style and charm but also harbours an secret gigolo feel about it. Just a touch too well dressed on occasions, too well turned out, that dark stranger on a journey who is just too good to be true. The man you meet at the roulette table who looks like Omar Sharif and turns out to be …..well….Omar Sharif. Still incredible scent though, and who could say no to Omar Sharif?
If I were a hooker dressed to kill standing under tropical neon, I would be Gucci Rush. Everything is ramped up, trembling on the edge of excess and taste. Ferrari fumes and hair lacquer ooze into the night as I slowly flash my stuff. God the air is thick around me, humid and laced with bubblegum and the scent of night blooming gardens. Sometimes I feel like this scent could actually kill, wrap its manicured talons around throats and actually kill. It raises the temperature, boils the blood, curls the lip and rolls across the skin like cheap pink fire. On girls it is magnificent, all towering heels, slicked lips and mauled hair. On boys it smells like rolled out of bed sexy cigarette-tinted skin and someone’s DNA smeared all over you. Glorious.
Like raspberries shredded through aircraft turbines and thrown onto the tarmac at Cannes airport, reeking of jammy shimmering fuel. A glaring hot hormonal rush. Imagine yourself crushed onto a heaving club dancefloor, caught in crashing beats wondering if perhaps age is indeed a factor and then deciding you smell bloody great, so who cares. This is one of those scents that poured onto fired up sexskin will howl gaudily into the night. Just don’t look too closely. Made a bit like All Saints clobber, great to look at, but up close, not as well put together as it could be.
This was given to me by a friend who just hated it and went to some lengths to describing his loathing. Then he said how much I would like it……. Actually I do. Not really big on other Parfums d’Empire scents, but this makes me want to build a time machine, set the dials, go back and find me a debauched fading Russian aristo, blue-eyed and bitter and play good old fashioned some leather games. Always remember that boots were indeed made for walking…..sometimes on each other…….Sniffing it off my wrist in my candlelit room I could throw vodka around fur-scattered rooms, drink champagne to the sound of gunfire and boots marching on stone. Ah, amid the glamour of conquest and burning love, what else could you possibly want to wear?
I am big fan of the Malle scented publications, each of them exploring hidden facets of the perfumer’s mind. This glittering cold composition is so haunting. I had reservations when I first cane across it in Paris, but it reached out a gloved grey hand and touched something in me. I remember as a child at boarding school in Scotland, walking alone on a deserted autumnal beach feeling very homesick and wondering if I would ever feel at home in such a alien country after years in Africa and the Middle East. I came across an abandoned beach hut, crouched in the dusk. I went in and the smell of sand, faded woods and my gloom seemed to oddly comfort me. This memory always floods back every single time I put this scent on. Distilled melancholy. I imagine I would like to be buried in this. Maybe it’s the whiteness.
I love the magic of Annick Menardo. This is a glorious scent, an addictive smudged blend of praline, velvet violet and aniseed. It shouldn't work, but it does beautifully. I normally wear the women's version, I like the Rapunzel-in-the-tower weirdness it has. But I go through bottles of this. The Yohji scent is mentioned a lot with this, but I prefer LL, creamier and I feel like Robin Hood dashing through the forest when i wear it........bow drawn, trailing crushed green and smashed sweetness as I go. Michael Praed as Robin….. not Mr Crowe........
A slightly guilty buy. But it kinda felt right. I was having another one of my tired-of-niche days and was wandering through over heated department stores, dodging the nuclear-tinted sales girls & boys that seem to have 7 second memories and return to worry you oh so quickly. This is neon bright fragrance, Las Vegas night time, lashings of bruised summer fruit and creamy lactonic floral heavy breathing wrapped around a pole dancing heart. Each of the Britney scents has been heading toward this plush, eye-popping exercise in garish joyful bouncy castle perfumery. Don't be a snob, try something a little trailer trash, you never know.....
Insipid thin chocolate. Not good. And vanishes soooo quickly. Actually reminded me of vending machine hot chocolate when I was a student, that sort of malty water thing with just the slightest whisper of anything vaguely cocoa. The orange note is vile, tic-tac orange with a whiff of Sanatogen multi vitamin. From the house that bought us Black and The Vert. Sad.
I imagine walking through a city nightscape, kicking through cocoa powder like the finest of sand beneath my feet, clouds of it catching flickering overhead neons. I am wearing lipgloss, people stare, some smile, some close their eyes. The air is still, my skin is alive though with spices, chocolate and the lilac kiss of bruised iris. I want them to know I am man who takes risks, a man who walks on the dark side of the line. The ambiguity of Dior Homme is startling enough, but it's David Bowie Man Who Fell to Earth eeriness is almost unbearably beautiful. My skin adores it, drinks itself giddy on it. It settles around me like a halo, barely glowing, but still warm enough to burn wings.
For me the Intense version (in the black box) is even better, more swirling cocoa, more sci-fi, more sweet rain. Like a drug, distance and separation can cause heartache and withdrawal.
Wear this and adore it. It will love you forever.
Caron are killing their scents, nothing smells the same anymore. My beloved En Avion and Nuit de Noel have had so much surgery as to be almost unrecognisable. Caron Pour Un Homme still smells fabulous but seems to be losing its softness. But Tabac, Tabac, Tabac. (Dramatic sigh) I wear the extract. Anything else is pointless. It still smells astonishing. Dripping in nostalgia and tricked out in spiky F***-you style, Tabac Blond is still a jaw-dropping hotel lobby that awash with marble, leather and faded gold. Music echoes through the columns, heels click rhythmically across inlaid tiles. Diamonds glitter, a woman laughs, a man turns, then a gunshot. The man falls in smoke-drenched slo-mo. The woman smiles, lights a cigarette, slips the gun into an immaculate clutch and walks out into the early morning sun. This is Tabac Blond. Sex, style and death.
You know who would wear this well? - Rachel in Bladerunner, glossy haunted Rachel, trailing smoke and desire, waiting for her life to end. She would have reeked of it.
Creepy scent,very unstable. Shrieking aggressive assault on the senses one moment, sulking scented petulance the next. I hated it. Now i don't mind plasticity in my scents. Anything weird will arrest me for a while, but Parisienne is unoriginal and dull, without a single whiff of anything running through it to suggest it was anything but a chore to compose and throw out into this loveless world. Who is wearing it? The romance of the ad is nowhere to be seen, the roses drowned by neon chemical fruit notes. Like a pretty girl choking on exhaust fumes in a crowded city street, a few people might notice, but not enough to really care.
These Anthology scents shouted duty free.....run away.....when i first saw them.I hated the supermodel angle. But then the tarot concept and the films and the grainy website kinda worked a little mainstream magic on me. I looked at them again and tried them all. L'Amoureux is good, subtle and nicely arranged, a simple cotton shirt of a scent with memories lingering in the fibres. The others slid off and faded. But Roue de la Fortune melted, bloomed and captured me. I've been looking for something fun for summer, something that smells really great. That simple really. Truth be told, right now I'm a little tired of niche and wanted a scent that made me want to lick my own skin. I wanted trash, Jessica Simpson, barbie, bondi beach, stolen party kisses and the promise of a slutty woozy summer. Tall order, but this sort of hit it, the pina colada opening, the patisserie cream filling and the weird sexy/plastic churchy tail end of a jasmine tinted dream. A very lovely surprise.
Etat scents are witty and companionable. (except Jasmin & Cigarettes......made me dizzy and faint). They are however actually often fuzzily similar the closer you look at them, the same notes roll across the varied scents despite the sometimes tiresome blurbs that try and spin a enticing world of cod-erotica. Judged as scents some are excellent. I do like Charogne, it has an off note i like, the scent of a clove orange on the turn, in a wardrobe with leather shoes and lived in clothes. Remember playing Sardines as a child? Perhaps crushed into that wardrobe with someone you secretly loved? The heat, the tensed excitement, bubblegum, shampoo, skin and the strange yet familiar scents of the space while a clock ticks and hearts beat faster.
I find it a little short in the lasting though, this affects my rating. Compared to Etat's Rien, which stays on despite decontamination procedures......Charogne falls short. A pity, i think the base lacks something. But for a little while it is rather beautiful.
Bought three bottles of this the other day as my local dept. store are discontinuing it. Only one of two chocolate scents i still wear (the other is Il Profumo - Chocolat Amere). Roucel is a great nose and manages to counterbalance the oddest accords within scents that by right shouldn't work at all. Missoni turns heads (and a few hearts....). This white flower & chocolate combo is absolutely fantastic, fresh, sweet, sharp, tropical green and oozing with patisserie charm. The orange notes are very delicate and compliment the boozy confectionery side of the scent. When used in unexpected ways chocolate can shock and surprise. The modern trend for luxury chocolates blended with tea, pepper, chilli, cardamom, sea salt, lavender, rose, lemon etc has opened our minds to experience how well the traditional warm, cosy glow of fine chocolate when used cleverly can explode an experience. This wears like the most elaborate patisserie in the window.
I have worn Lily & Spice since it was released. It is such an willful and proud scent, packed with contradictions - light & dark, virgin and whore, stability and chaos. Most lily scents reek of camphor, the notes are so similar, but this, this is a clean, skeletal white boned thing, wrapped in the softest of indolic sheaths. The white musks translate for me into starch and clean laundry, another reason I love it so much, it simply soothes me. The spices are dusted across the floral notes with the lightest of touches. The clove does noticeably rise and fall but only to counterpoint the waxy and sullen beauty of the Madonna Lily. Indeed i think it is the aloofness of Lily & Spice, the reserve, the bonewhite chilly sensuality that i love so much. One of my favourite actresses is Isabelle Adjani, coldly beautiful, glacial even, her face a perfect mask of internalised desire. This could be for her.
Hallucinogenic mud rituals. I loved Sexy Angelic despite the fact it fades so quickly. When i tried this I pictured myself struggling through the jungle, battered, covered in mud, exhausted, slightly insane with fatigue and hunger, bursting from the trees and confronting startled hotel guests by a luxury pool, wondering if I had imagined everything. I can still hear the beating of the drums, smell the smoke, feel the animal in me trying to get out. Great experience to pack into a lunch hour. Sadly like all things up, the down is terribly disappointing.
Really like this pancakes and maple syrup scent. Charming and joyful. Wears very close to the skin. Cheerios in a bottle with airy notes of apple and chai latte. Like molten sun pouring through a window onto a messy breakfast table, just lovely. I wear it to bed as well. Bought it especially for that. Normally I wear Hypnotic Poison to bed, but sometimes, when I'm feeling a little fragile, a little sad, I crave somethng soothingly beige; Lann Ael is perfect.