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Reviews by JaimeB

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JaimeB Show all reviews
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Philtre d'Amour by Guerlain

Maybe it's just the image of Tristan and Isolde betraying King Marc when they accidentally downed the love potion — that's what Philtre d'Amour means — that makes this seem a very romantic scent to me. The whole idea of courtly love is summed up in this seemingly magical compulsion to take up with other people's spouses brought on by some sudden, irresistible force. Oh, well, that's not so much about perfume is it? Unless, of course, it says something about clever packaging and marketing. And unless perfume really does have something to do with desire, even lust... Another discussion there.

What lies at the attraction of this scent for me, beyond the romantic association, is the curious interplay of light and dark, or in terms of the story of Tristan, of joy and betrayal, of excitement and danger. In the scent it's the citrus notes and jasmine against patchouli and myrtle. Other reviewers have seen these darker notes as a "masculine" feature, and I think this might be true as to emotional effect. Though this contrastive balance is found in all perfumes, the sunniest and brightest notes in this one are contrasted against the deep ones with practically no intermediate buffer.

I find this scent appealing for that very feature, stark extremes with no middle ground, very like the plunge of that first moment of love-at-first-sight.
05th February, 2015
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Amorvero Uomo by Amorvero

Others have criticized this scent for belonging to the most common masculine category and made comparisons to others in that crowded field. I believe that, since I can only wear one fragrance at a time, it isn't the end-all-and-be-all criterion to compare one scent to others of its kind.

My take on this is that it has some advantages over others in the genre: It has a slightly modern feel to it, a kind of talent for creating and then resolving dissonance, to use a musical analogy. It also is lighter than some other aromatic fougères, and breathes an air of refinement in an updated key. I respect its balance, its smooth development, and its staying power. I find it overall elegant, satisfying, and relaxing — features which I wouldn't sneeze at.

Yes, others can be preferred for many reasons, not least of all lower cost. I prefer some others for different reasons, too; but it doesn't detract from this one that it's comfortable and easy for me to wear. Not every example of a popular genre is going to shine with stunning brilliance, but excellence is not the only merit of a scent. If it were, we wouldn't have such large and varied collections on our shelves, would we?

What did Voltaire say? "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" (The best is the enemy of the good). Sometimes upholding the virtue of excellence blinds us to some lesser joys that nevertheless brighten our lives!
05th February, 2015
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Vetiver Geranium by Creed

A refreshing scent from Creed in a more modern mode. Although it has a very slightly chemical vibe, this is a quite light-hearted and upbeat fragrance. The classic pairing of rose with cinnamon in the heart gives a touch of tradition. The inclusion of apple in the top note provides innovation and a good substitute for other, more usual fruity notes, and shifts this from a feminine stereotype to a more definitely shared fragrance. The geranium also has the effect of tempering the rose and masking some of the lushness of it. It surprises me that vetiver is missing from the notes listed on its Basenotes page, because it is prominent to my nose, even before the drydown, and is one of its more appealing features.

This is a good daytime wear, perhaps a bit too sentimental for guys to wear to work, but not impossible for the adventurous souls among us.

I acquired this on a trip to Florence, and never opened it until I returned to the States, but when I wear it now, it seems the perfect embodiment of the spirit of the Tuscan town. It may only be the memory of the association, but for me, it encapsulates the carefree, open, and welcoming spirit of the place.

One of the better of the recent Creeds.
05th February, 2015
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HYLNDS - Isle Ryder by D.S. & Durga

DS & Durga's fragrance line, Hylnds, consists of fragrances that try to capture a feel for the archaic world of the Celtic and Norse peoples. The ingredients in their formulations are chosen from the natural and cultural odorant materials associated with that world.

Of the Hylnds line, I think my favorite is Isle Ryder. It embodies elements that could be reminiscent of ancient Celtic life and myth. The basic feel of the fragrance is warm and enveloping, a spicy, earthy, forest, slightly resinous vibe sweetened by a touch of floral and honeyed notes:

in the top, poplar buds, fir cones, and meadowsweet;
a heart of jasmine, golden gorse and Norway spruce;
and a base of mead, woodruff, and bulrush straws.

Meadowsweet was a strewing herb, used on the floors of noble houses so that its scent would be released by people crushing the material as they walked over it; it was also one of the ingredients used to flavor mead, a fermented drink made from honey and herbs. This herb, as well as woodruff (also used here), are high in coumarin content, the new-mown hay note so essential to fougère compositions. Meadowsweet was also sacred to the Druids, so you can see that the nose behind this fragrance, David Moltz, has done his homework.

The fragrance has good longevity and projection, has some development (though it maintains a constant base note throughout), and is (for me, at least) a good evening and cool weather scent. The only possible detraction I can think of is that some people might find this EdP a bit on the heavy side, but the solution to that is to spray with a light hand. Definitely a keeper in my book!
11th February, 2014
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Fath Pour l'Homme by Jacques Fath

Suave, not overpowering, but a definite presence. Goes to a skin scent after about four or five hours. The oriental character of this seems not to reference vanilla very much. The drydown is more amber and musk, retaining a hint of the spice notes as well. Perfect for wearing in public, at work, casual social occasions, and so forth. It's urbane, sophisticated, and not in the least modern or trendy. Unassuming, but definitely not self-effacing.
09th July, 2011
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Mat; Very Male by Masakï Matsushïma

A bit strong at first, with a clear, sweet anisette liqueur note. Then subtler bamboo and lotus flower notes chime in, along with other woody notes. Finally, patchouli. licorice, and cedar complete the scent. Overall, quite captivating; I would say almost addictive, because of the anise and licorice complemented by cedar and other woods. A stroke of perfumer genius made to flatter the male ego.
29th April, 2011
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Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Quite unusual for a fougère, though recognizable as such. It has a lot of spicy notes, and some florals (cyclamen, lavender, neroli), but lots of woods and 'effects' (by which I guess are meant accords or bases). First sniff is kind of barbershop-like, but later, the more modern aspects come out, supplementing the earlier impression without negating it or taking over from it completely. The resiny and woody notes come in gradually, starting from the very beginning, it seems. What doesn't seem evident are the aldehydes; the sort of waxy and slightly floral effect one expects from these doesn't seem to materialize, unless it is missed in the early rush of top notes. The overall effect seems spare, a bit angular and no-nonsense, but in an elegant mode nevertheless. Some might call this invigorating; that would certainly be justifiable, but the best overall descriptions to me would be 'modern' and 'atmospheric.'
22nd March, 2011
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Silver Black / Onyx by Azzaro

Hmm... not really a fougère (no coumarin) and not really a chypre (too much lavender), this is a strange beast. But strange, for me at least, is not always bad. The herbal spiciness in the middle notes and the woody oriental feel in the base notes makes this an interesting play on contrasts. Having said that, I think the balance among all the elements is what makes it work. It wants to say "aromatic fougère," but then it stops and contradicts itself, and says instead, "I'm my own animal." Frankly, this isn't something I wear a lot, but when I tire of fragrances that more or less play by the classical rules, I may turn to this with solid confidence that at least I'll smell good.
17th March, 2011
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Kenzo Pour Homme Boisée / Woody by Kenzo

Also, the label lists a bunch of interesting chemicals (what they synthesize or their function in parentheses): Limonene (Oranges), Linalool (Floral-spicy), Alpha-isomethyl ionone (Floral), Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (UV screen), Citronellal (Lemon), Coumarin (Tonka bean), Butyl Dimehtoxydiibenzoylmethane (full-spectrum UV screen), Ethylhexyl Salicylate (UV screen), Citral (Lemon verbena), Geraniol (Fruity-rose-like odor), Eugenol (Sweet-woody spice). Interesting what gets into scents, but not into the pyramid, nowadays. Smells nice, light, slightly spicy, slightly fresh-floral, definitely woody. Good for young guys who like woody, masculine scents. Not much sillage after the initial blast, limited longevity. Nice ad, not too expensive.
19th February, 2011
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Private Collection - Querelle by Parfumerie Generale

The ambergris note in the base qualifies this to be called an oriental, along with the myrrh and incense notes. Woods, in the form of vetiver, share the space with the deeper notes. There is a hint of a chypre about it as well, because the citrus and oakmoss make a reference that is not totally subordinated to the dominant oriental theme. Black caraway and cinnamon provide a spicy vibe, and the complete absence of floral notes marks this as a definite "masculine" in terms of traditional gender classifications of scents. The associations with Jean Genêt's novel of murder and raunchy whorehouse sex belie the beauty of this scent — unless you consider, as Genêt did, that murder and raunchy sex can be beautiful...
11th February, 2011
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Lancetti Monsieur by Lancetti

A rather dry, green, slightly astringent masculine chypre with herbal and spicy notes predominant in the first phase. The development progresses to a woody-spicy vibe with overtones of muscatel wine. The drydown is mostly woods and musks, with coumarin and incense for added interest. Not too easy to find these days. It has decent projection and quite good longevity on my skin. It’s just a tad too bitter to seem elegant to my taste, but quite a well-constructed and interesting scent in its own right. I would say it’s not quite a gem, but rather perhaps a baroque pearl: lustrous, but slightly farouche and irregular — in a good way, of course...
29th January, 2011
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Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat by Guerlain

Use a lot and reapply frequently. A waste of money? Definitely not. This is a variant on the eau de cologne genre that distills its essence. The lack of longevity is not a hurdle that can't be overcome; rather, it's a challenge to be met. A definite note of indolic animality is present here, even if orange blossom is not mentioned in the formula. The overwhelming impression is of that odd creature that seems to combine lemon and lime: the citron, called cédrat in French. The reference to fleurs, of course, is the hint that citrus blossom is in the mix.
13th January, 2011
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Les Heures de Parfum - XII L'Heure Mystérieuse by Cartier

Notes: Jasmine, Patchouli, Coriander, Elemi, Incense, Nutmeg
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A floral-oriental with good projection and sillage early on, gradually toning down to a tad closer to the skin. The coriander, nutmeg, and elemi in the mix keep the scent fresh and somewhat spicy, while the jasmine heart and the woody-oriental base make it smooth and creamy. This wears nicely on the skin, the quality of the ingredients making it pleasant, if not exactly ground-breaking. The warmest of Les Heures de Cartier series thus far, it is the most soothing to the senses, and also the most mysterious, hence the sobriquet, L'Heure Mystérieuse: Midnight, the witching hour — bewitching indeed!
10th October, 2010
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Eau des Merveilles by Hermès

This is the one that's supposed to have an "inverted pyramid"; i. e., the top notes are in the base, the base notes are in the top, and the middle notes are... well, still in the middle. The EdT smells to me remarkably similar to the later Terre d'Hermès of Ellena, but it is missing that "silex" note that's said to remind one of the smell of sun-warmed stones. On the whole this is rather unisex to me, though it's labeled as being for women. The progression of this from layer to layer is rather hard to detect for me. It seems almost as if all the levels are present from beginning to end, making it a bit more linear than most Hermès scents. Still, it's something of a tour de force, and deserves some credit for that.
02nd October, 2010 (last edited: 11th February, 2014)
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Opus II by Amouage

Testing this from a sample. It seems to go through a fairly rapid development, and goes quiet sometime between the start of the heart note and the beginning of the base. It's hard for me to judge these things when I can't spray a scent on; using the juice by applying it from moistened wrists doesn't always give me a true impression. I had tested this casually before, but today was my first full wearing. I like it very much, except for the quietness of it. I wish it stayed as noticeable throughout as it does in the top note. I like it enough to have ordered it, so that should say something about my willingness to get beyond my reservations. I do, however, think it will require more than I applied today to satisfy my nose. I want to say I think there's some confusion about one of the top notes here: the note listed in English as "Pink Bay" is, I fear, a mistranslation of the French "baies roses," which is actually what we usually call pink peppercorns in English. I don't smell bay laurel in this; the pink pepper seems more plausible to my nose.
13th September, 2010
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Eau Duelle by Diptyque

Official notes from Diptyque printed matter:
•Top Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Juniper Berries, Cardamom, Elemi •Middle Notes: Frankincense, Calamus, Black Ceylon Tea •Base Notes: Bourbon Vanilla, Haitian Vetiver, Cypriol.
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A nice, fresh opening, a good balance of the top notes. This soon shifts into the middle notes, with the balance here favoring the frankincense note. In the base the vanilla comes on like gangbusters, though the vetiver is there, and the slightly spicy, earthy, wood-like scent of cypriol, the Indian grass also known in Hindi as nagarmotha. The oriental character is very pronounced, and the sillage and longevity are above average, compared to other Diptyques. Interesting, because while almost all orientals have an amber note, it's lacking here, yet this still makes a very convincing oriental presence.

Read more: http://www.basenotes.net/ID26131468.html#ixzz0zCXdKSq3
11th September, 2010
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Quartz pour Homme by Molyneux

A very dry scent dominated in the top notes by bitter citrus rind. The heart note is a combination of sweet and piquant spice notes. Finally, the base consists of woods with touches of leather and musk. The dryness is quite pronounced for quite a long time, but eventually these harsher notes are relieved by the remains of the spice notes with woods, leather, and musk. The final stage is quite elegant and gentlemanly, and the best part of the ride, in my opinion.
06th September, 2010
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Aventus by Creed

I found Aventus kind of citrus-fruity on the top, with leather and light florals in the heart, and with oakmoss-oriental notes in the base. Good longevity, moderate sillage. This is different from older Creeds, more on the modern side, but I liked it quite a bit. It's less gimmicky than some of their other newer scents, like Original Vetiver and Original Santal. I think this could be an evening scent, but it's pleasant enough to wear to work, as long as your work environment isn't very conservative or stuffy.
05th September, 2010
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Vetyverio by Diptyque

Vetyverio has a lot of citrus up top; florals and geranium in the heart with Haitian vetiver; and some unusual notes in the base: Java vetiver, carrot seed, nutmeg, clove, cedar. The two vetivers make an interesting contrast: the Haitian is a little more citrus-floral, the Java much woodier. What lingers at the end of this are the two vetivers, the spices, and the woods. I think most would like this one, though it may be a little light for some tastes, and others might not be crazy about the first few minutes. I guess you'll just have to try it. Like most Diptyques, this is not extremely long-lasting, but not as bad in that department as some of their earlier ones. Sillage is moderate, but noticeable.
05th September, 2010
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Bulgari Man by Bulgari

First, let me say that I don't only buy the most wonderful scents. Some fairly mediocre scents are still good enough to wear to work, or on a routine day. I can't live with my head in the clouds all the time! I thought this was a bit above average middle-of-the-road scent, the kind of thing I could wear around people who don't like scents that project a lot. It is close to the skin (like a lot of the Bvlgari men's line, apart from Black, perhaps). It is modern and fresh, with the currently popular violet leaf accord, but it also has a nice semi-gourmand quality (the honey?) and it dries down pretty quickly to a skin scent that is nevertheless detectable to those very close by (a date scent, maybe). Someone compared it to a combination of Bvlgari Soir and Bvlgari Black. I would have said Soir and Blue without the marine note. Soir, but warmer, not so off-the-top fresh, but more subtly so.

In short, perfectly nice, but not stunning; consequently, perfect for when you want to come across as smelling (merely) nice (and not too much). It fills a niche in my wardrobe, along with a few others. Whether it's for you is for you to decide.
29th August, 2010
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Comme des Garçons 3 by Comme des Garçons

Off the beaten path, like so many other CdG scents. This one is subtle, not very sillage-heavy, though noticeable on a quieter level. An unusual mix of largely unfamiliar green notes, spices, light florals, woods, and orientals. This is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but it does something magical in spring and summer for me. There's just some kind of leafy freshness that seems to fit those times of year, to my nose.
08th August, 2010
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Lentisque by 06130 Zéro Six Cent-Trente

This is not a strong scent with a lot of sillage, although it seems it may be for the first few minutes on your skin. If you're able to enjoy just wearing a lush and beautiful skin scent for the better part of a day, though, you'll love this. It is a floral oriental with an unusual top note of mastic (an oleoresin from the lentiscus tree) that does linger well into the heart notes of the scent. Relax with the mellowness of Lentisque when you don't feel you need to shine, but maybe just want to vibrate softly for a day.
07th August, 2010
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Etra by Etro

Etra is a very fresh, woody-spicy oriental with a fairly sharp beginning and a mellow, but persistent drydown. I like to wear it in cool to warm weather, especially if it's a sunny day, since it really seems to incarnate a sunny disposition. Thi has good longevity on my skin, and a beautiful sillage. People often remark on smelling "something good" when I wear it, though it seems they don't know exactly where it's coming from. I don't mind, because I get to smell it wherever I go just by sniffing my wrist!
16th June, 2010
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Gris Clair by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

A lavender fragrance over an oriental base, but not exactly a fougère. This is a remarkable tenacious fragrance, and yet not overpowering. It does go on for hours, and the sillage is moderate, but far from being a skin scent. The pyramid has mysterious references to roots and pollens, dry notes, oriental notes, woody notes, all carefully sketchy and unspecified. Undeniable tonka bean and amber in the base, and lavender and iris in the heart. The rest is your guess. Rapturously engaging, irrefutably pleasant, carefully balanced and well-constructed. A pleasure to wear and a delight to the nose.
19th May, 2010 (last edited: 11th February, 2014)
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Richard James by Richard James

Elegant, restrained, refined floral for men. This is a seamless blend of citrus, tea, herbs, spices, florals, suede, tobacco, oriental, and woody notes. Smooth and even in development. The top is fresh with a hint of herbs; the heart, floral and spicy; the base leather oriental. Overall, as near to chypre as such a wide-ranging palette can come. A pleasure to wear as a suave work scent or a well-tailored evening dress fragrance.
17th May, 2010
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Parfum d'Habit by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

Initially, a very strange note resembling some kind of sharp-smelling forest damp, but then, it evens out into a kind of a leather scent with an oriental base. This has quite a bit of sillage, and works best in cooler weather on my skin. It can be quite elegant for evening wear (as in black tie), or simply for informal social events. The blackcurrant bud note stays with the fragrance most of the way through the drydown, giving it a uniqueness and a touch of cachet.
07th May, 2010
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Red Vetyver by Montale

An interesting and different take on vetiver. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I feel the elemi and grapefruit in the top note makes for a very promising beginning. The rest is conventional enough not to be offensive. It seems to have good longevity and sillage on me, and I like the rather unorthodox beginning.
27th April, 2010
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Sutra Ylang by Bois 1920

Rather nice and pleasant scent that wears well in almost any weather. I like the citrus top with a hint of spice and laurel. The heart of florals with just a hint of clove in the carnation note is very pretty without being girly. A woody oriental base includes a bit of moss for bitterness, which helps the drydown mellow. All in all a very nice scent for evening or casual social wear.
17th April, 2010
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Amber Absolute by Tom Ford

Labdanum and amber characterize this scent. The vanilla is kind of an obligatory player in orientals. Which woods are in this? My guess would be guaiac wood, perhaps with a sandalwood note, and a bit of something cashmeran or ebony-scented. This makes for good layering with Tobacco Vanille or Tuscan Leather.
30th March, 2010
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Léonard Homme by Léonard

I must have thought I was getting the classic powerhouse Léonard pour Homme, since I was expecting a leather chypre in the old-school mode. But instead I got this, which is not a bad woods scent in the more-or-less modern mode. This will be good for the office and casual wear. It has a slight camphor note, unlisted, which seems to give it some interest.
30th March, 2010