Perfume Reviews

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Total Reviews: 363
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Felanilla 21 by Parfumerie Generale

Vanillas! Vanillas everywhere! I'm not sure exactly which fragrance started the current proliferation of high-end vanillas (was it SDV that started it?), but regardless of how it started it seems like every house needs to have a high end vanilla. Even houses that have one or many vanillas are coming out with more vanilla perfumes (i.e. L'Artisan had Vanilia, came out with Havana Vanille, Profumum has several vanillas, came out with Vanitas, etc.).

Pierre Guillaume aka Parfumerie Generale has a line full of vanilla/amber gourmands and the PG specialty, the 'semi-gourmand' (i.e. Aomassai, Cadjmere, L'Oiseau de Nuit, L'Ombre Fauve, Brulure de Rose, etc.). Those like myself who appreciate and understand the subtle genius of Guillaume were very curious as to what a PG vanilla would be like, and some bought blind without even sampling, such were their trust in PG's quality.

I can't lie, I was not blown away by Felanilla - not at first - but over months of continuing samplings and wearings has revealed a fantastic vanilla-grounded fragrance that is about much more then "just vanilla". Vibert's review excellently describes the interplay of notes and I'm not sure I can do much better. The smokiness of the orris, the unique hint of 'bananawood' (which smells like it sounds), the musky/powdery iris, and the dry complexity of hay absolute all balance and enhance a vanilla note that is rich without being too thick. While SDV remains my holy grail vanilla for its volume and pure audaciousness, Felanilla represents a superior technical composition. Compared to the other high-end niche vanillas, whether it be Profumum Vanitas, SL Un Bois Vanille, LP Havana Vanille, PdN Vanille Intense, etc. this PG is the most intriguing, the most nuanced, the most truly unique. As is typical of PG perfumes I get significant sillage with a typical application and roughly 10 hours of longevity. Now that PGs are available in 30ml sizes (to join 50ml and 100ml options) it's even easier to put these on your shelf.

If you could only own one vanilla I'd say get SDV, but if you're buying a second vanilla make sure it's Felanilla.... thumbs up!
08th March, 2010
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Yvresse / Champagne by Yves Saint Laurent

Reading through these reviews, with a particular reference to Vibert's, I have to wonder not IF this perfume has been reformulated but just how much it's been reformulated over the years. Some reviews very much vibe with what I'm smelling, and others are describing a very different fragrance. Concerning the original perfume in the bottles labeled 'Champagne', and specifically the parfum concentration, the composition in unquestionably a chypre and has little if anything to do with the sappy fruity florals that Vibert aptly describes.

It's taken me almost a year of owning Champagne parfum to get my head around it, but recently everything clicked. On application I've always felt that this was YSL's version of Diorella or Cristalle. A fruity chypre for sure, but with a "funk" (which is the lurking cumin, though it's not distinctly cumin-smelling) that very much made it appropriate for being a YSL fragrance, as though they the brief read "we want a raunchy Diorella to fit our darkly sexy marketing image." While other reviewers are commenting on an effervescent, bubbly peach my parfum is hardly this way. Rather I smell a very overripe peach/apricot backed by florals and pushed by cumin to form an accord that is discordant, but discordant such that I want to keep my wrist to my nose to see how this conflict will resolve itself. The drydown is markedly less eventful, but it is enjoyable. The apricot/peach note never fully recedes, but it takes a backseat to a vetiver-spiked classic chypre drydown that features a good dose of oakmoss. I find the heart to be the most enjoyable stage of Champagne - the fruity topnotes are balanced with a melange of florals, the oakmoss/patchouli begins to appear and the underlying vetiver is at its most prominent - but there isn't any point of development I don't like.

Just the tiniest dab is all that's needed to make my arm reek of Champagne strongly for hours - this is potent stuff for sure. I've been enjoying the vintage parfum so much that I found myself an original 'Champagne' labeled EdT, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it differs from the parfum. I'm not so sure that trying Yvresse as it exists now sounds appealing, especially given the comments that it's a very sweet fruity floral, something that Champagne is not. If you're a fan of fruity chypres it's well worth seeking out an original 'Champagne' branded bottle. Thumbs UP!
28th February, 2010
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Femme Jolie by Sonoma Scent Studio

As others have mentioned, Femme Jolie is in the same 'family' of perfume as the epic Feminite du Bois as well as its progeny like Bois Oriental and Dolce Vita. Although in the same family, I find Femme Jolie to be the superior composition among its family members and the most enjoyable to wear. FJ's topnotes are really what sets it apart, a cinnamon/spice note on top of a fruity plum/peach with a hint of ginger for sharpness. The balance is absolutely perfect and my wrist is firmly planted to my nose when I wear/sample it. The drydown is where the similarities with the above mentioned perfumes comes into focus - a plummy violet blended with a creamy vanillic cedar/sandalwood. While the sillage is substantial, the composition isn't nearly as loud as say, Dolce Vita and I find it smoother, slightly sweeter, and more pleasing then Bois Oriental or even FdB.

After wearing Femme Jolie last night I was very pleasantly surprised to still smell it on myself this morning. FJ is currently available as a limited re-release, and it's very obvious to me that I'm going to have to buy a backup before it disappears because I don't anticipate this first bottle lasting very long!
25th February, 2010
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Plus Que Jamais by Guerlain

I've owned Plus Que Jamais for some time now and I've always wanted to write a review that would do the fragrance justice. I thought that over time and repeated wearings and samplings I'd eventually be able to pull apart and distinguish the notes and accords. This has not happened and I accept that it will likely never happen. Simply put, PQJ is stunning, and it is classic Guerlain for the modern day. If someone were to put a sample of PQJ on one hand and a vintage classic on the other, a sophisticated perfumista/o would not be able to distinguish which fragrance was released in 2005. What's so brilliant and enjoyable about PQJ is that it evokes classic, historical Guerlains while remaining unique.

The topnotes are a blend of florals and citrus (bergamot/neroli), the blend of which leans more heavily towards citrus initially but becomes more floral as the composition progresses. This accord, together with what feels like the slightest hint of amber, evokes the amber/rose Guerlain classic, Rue de La Paix PQJ's opening accord is wonderfully rich and full, the pungency of the citrus softened by the powdery iris in the background that evokes Apres l'Ondee (and many others). From the opening PQJ move to a lightly sweetened floral heart featuring a hint of rose (again, reminiscent of Rue de La Paix, Chamade, LHB, etc.) The blend of florals moves to a classic Guerlinade base of vanilla/tonka/iris yet never fully loses the subtle floral/citrus accord that runs throughout the life of the fragrance.

As is appropriate for a fragrance of this class and stature, the sillage is 'sufficient'. Were it any greater the fragrance would be out of balance. The longevity, shorter then I'd like it to be but not terrible, is perhaps the lone drawback of Plus Que Jamais, but the extent of this deficiency is paltry compared to the fragrance's towering genius. I strenuously disagree with those reviewers who find PQJ to be more appropriate for women then men. Rather, I find PQJ to be squarely unisex and very wearable. Two giant thumbs up.....
19th February, 2010
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Bouche Baie by Nez à Nez

There aren't many of us - especially not us guys - that can articulate precisely why one fruity floral is a beautiful classic (Gucci Accenti) and why another is a teenager-worthy sugared disaster (take your pick from any mall counter). I am not any particular exception to this rule and therefore I will not be able to articulate why this Bouche Baie works as a fruity floral - but it does. As I work my way through samples of the entire Nez a Nez line I've come back to this one a few times now. In a line containing many fruity florals BB stands out perhaps because of its restraint. I believe this to result from the more prominent orange blossom/jasmine that is distinguishable once the topnotes fade away. Whereas others from the line fling themselves off a cliff of sugar, this fragrance is far better balanced. Still, there's something very synthetic feeling here that I'm not altogether impressed with - not that synthetic is in and of itself a bad thing, but when you know you're just smelling aromachemicals mimicking natural ingredients it kinda ruins the illusion.

A positive thumbs up, but not an overly enthusiastic one.
10th February, 2010
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Purple Love Smoke by Soivohle (Liz Zorn)

I recently ordered a group of samples from Soivohle and Ms. Zorn added in a sample of Purple Love Smoke as a bonus. I'm glad she did because, along with Underworld parfum, it's probably my favorite of the bunch.

Last year I went through a 'violet' phase during which I sought out and sampled all manner of violet fragrances. I moved on from that phase having never really found a holy grail violet perfume. With this sample I've belatedly found such a fragrance! Purple Love Smoke features an incredibly deep, rich violet note - it's a touch green, a touch sweet and a touch floral. Paired with the violet note is a smoke "note" that smells like it's somewhere between the aroma of fresh topsoil and that of a smooth tabac. The accord works very well - the notes compliment each other and one can 'focus' their nose on either the violet, the 'smoke', or defocus and catch the general mix of the two.

I'm still learning about Soivohle as a house and have only tried a half dozen different scents. So far I'm very impressed - the quality of the compositions is superb and PLS exemplifies this. As with other "all-natural-ingredient" fragrances I've tried, longevity seems to suffer for the lack of synthetics, but that's a compromise I'm happy to live with if it means having fragrances this good.
20th January, 2010
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Fat Electrician by Etat Libre d'Orange

I have to hand it to Etat Libre d'Orange - their line represents without question a shining beacon of niche perfumery. The whole raison d'etre for niche perfumery should be to provide an alternative to generic, market-research driven and profit-first designer perfume offerings. It feels like a new house pops up weekly, each sporting fancy bottles, high prices, yet totally uninspired fragrances built upon the same aromachemicals that everyone else is using (I'm looking at you "Boadicea the Victorious"). By contrast ELdO fragrances are original from the ground up, they are reasonably priced, and they are among the most creative compositions one can buy. After releasing its original line Etat Libre hasn't come out with too many new scents. The newest, Fat Electrician, carries on the ELdO banner proudly.

There are countless vetivers fragrances available today. What differentiates all these vetivers is the pungency and specific nature of the vetiver note and what the accompanying notes are. There are many excellent modern vetivers (Sycomore, Vetiver Extraordinaire, Givenchy Vetyver, etc.), but let's face it, if you own one vetiver you need not own the others unless the minutiae of vetiver scents is 'your thing'. Leave it to Etat Libre to make a truly different vetiver scent that is perfectly wearable.

Fat Electrician's initial vetiver blast is pungent and slightly sharp, yet not overly salty (i.e. Goutal or LezNez). Unlike vetivers that brighten the earthiness of the vetiver note with citrus or contrast the vetiver with something like tobacco, ELdO goes the route of creamy vanilla. Quickly after application a distinct opoponax note opens up - the vetiver is the most prominent note, but the sweet, woody opoponax is there. After opoponax comes myrrh, a note that is most prominent in the base. Moving parallel to the development of these woody notes is 'the vanilla'. Slowly but surely a background of smooth vanilla becomes more and more prominent, but it never fully overtakes the vetiver note that remains in the foreground throughout the composition. By the time Fat Electrician has settled into its base one smells a melange of vetiver and myrrh on a bed of vanilla (and the vanilla itself is not thin, but very rich and creamy). Besides being unique, it smells just damn good... the base (which is long lasting) is my favorite part of Fat Electrician.

For people about to sample Fat Electrician allow me to warn you that this fragrance operates on a couple levels. Sampling on your arm you will experience something along the lines of what I've described, along with perhaps your own interpretation of notes. The vanilla and background notes seem quite prominent. However when worn on the body, the vetiver note is primarily what you will smell, with the vanilla and woody notes only becoming distinct after a couple hours. Surprisingly the sillage is less robust then most ELdOs, making FE a good choice for situations that call for a more discrete fragrance choice. Longevity is fantastic - once the base settles it will last on the skin for many hours.

Great for vetiver fans - and also great for people looking for an entree to vetiver fragrances.

16th January, 2010
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Sienna Musk by Sonoma Scent Studio

I'm really not much of a musk wearer, but when I do go for a musk Sienna Musk is one of my go-to favorites. It's a bit sharp and spicy, and reminiscent of Nasomatto's Silver Musk in that sense (but not THAT sharp), but there's also a hint of sweetness that balances the sharper notes (ginger?) brilliantly. Both on paper and skin the longevity is tremendous - 12+ hours the last time I wore it. On drydown the woody notes emerge, particularly a lightly sweetened sandalwood.

Excellent choice for those who want a 'cleaner' type musk scent - and at SSS' prices it's a tremendous value.

notes (per SSS website): mandarin, musk, sandalwood, cedar, cypress, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, clove
08th January, 2010
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Vetiver by Guerlain

With so many excellent reviews preceding mine what can I really add? As you've figured out, Guerlain Vetiver is a blend of citrus, tobacco, and vetiver. Not the strongest vetiver for those of you who like pungency or earthiness, but excellent for anywhere-anytime use.

I will add the following tidbit: if you can find vintage Guerlain Vetiver EDC grab it! It's quite different from today's formula with a distinct, bracing vetiver note and only dashes of citrus and tobacco in the background. Don't let the 'edc' concentration scare you off - it's stronger then today's EdT.
04th January, 2010
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Voleur de Ciels by Stéphanie de Saint-Aignan

I've loved Voleur de Ciels since I first sampled it almost two years ago, and finally - finally, I've got a bottle and can properly analyze it. I've never been one for note pyramids or lists when writing reviews, but they do help when the identity of a note or accord is right on the tip of your tongue. However, looking at VdC's note list doesn't help me at all - it fact it just doesn't seem right at all.

The notes per Luckyscent are: mint bouquet, Jasmin, milky notes, leather. Instead what I experience from the opening is a distinct tabac accord with subtle florals adding breadth (there is no distinct jasmine that I can detect). As the heart emerges there is some similarity with chypres in the sense that a mossy/woody note emerges that mimics oakmoss...but ultimately it's just a similarity. A distinct leatheriness that underlies the heart emerges as the base, along with a touch of muskiness. Longevity is fantastic, with hints of leather on my skin the next morning after application.

Overall Voleur de Ciels is certainly masculine but not harsh - it's certainly wearable by the kind of perfumista who wears Tabac Blonde or perhaps En Avion. As with other Stephanie de S-A perfumes, it's well constructed and superbly balanced. Unlike many new niche houses, the accords seem all original and the quality of materials is clearly evident. Excellent stuff....
01st January, 2010
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Opoponax by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

A terrific example of opoponax. This one is woody with a good dose of vanilla (it is a CSP, after all). Surprisingly good sillage and longevity for an old CSP.

I hope I come across a bottle someday....
01st January, 2010
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Encens & Bubblegum by Etat Libre d'Orange

I assume everyone has their own notion of what bubblegum smells like based on what they chewed as children - I always think of that horrible, stiff gum that came in packs of baseball cards. There's no question that it should smell sweet and candy-like, and that's just what the bubblegum note does in this scent - the suggestion of gum is quite clearly there, even if it's created by combining floral/fruit notes (so don't get upset that it doesn't smell like the particular brand you once enjoyed).

ELDO once again presents a fragrance that is unique, different, and refreshingly simple. Like Jasmin et Cigarette, two contrasting accords are simultaneously presented. The incense is a tad faint at first but increases in prominence through the life of the fragrance. One can focus on the gum and smell the gum, or one can focus on the incense and smell that - or just try not to focus on anything and enjoy the sweet and sharp mix. The two accords never quite meld, but towards the base a sweet muskiness brings the two closer together. As you can guess, sillage and longevity are both superb.

While most niche houses outdo each other with the purported fanciness of their products, Etat Libre mocks them all by remaining poppy and fun. Who else is putting out a scent of gum and incense - and naming it 'gum and incense'? Whereas most marketing is not reflected by the actual products (are you really more sexy wearing that <insert house> scent? no.), ELDO marketing is fun, the scents are fun and easy to wear.

Must-try.
31st December, 2009
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Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

I have no idea why - no idea - but until recently I'd never even sampled Caleche. Even though I consider myself something of an Hermes fan, I'd simply never gotten around to it. To cut to the chase, I love it... but I'm also glad that it took me years to finally get around to sampling it because had I tried it when I first began collecting fragrance I may not have been so enthralled. I shall explain...

Vibert's excellent review hits all the major points. Caleche presents an aldehydic green chypre as such a scent should be: classy and proper. The opening floral/green/citrus accord is blended such that no one note is distinct and it is downright bitter. I assume most people sampling Caleche are out at this point. If you stick with her, Caleche's heart slowly evolves and a more distinct rose and lily notes began to poke their heads out from behind the bitter aldehydic opening, adding a touch of sweetness to balance the green notes.

For those of you not familiar with vintage chypres, Caleche is likely not going to be enjoyable. However, for those familiar with Caleche's contemporaries, the Miss Diors, the Givenchy IIIs, and the Chanel 19s of this world Caleche fits in quite well. The addition of aldehydes over the green chypre structure harkens to the great Patou Caline. Caline is softer and less bitter with sandalwood in the drydown, but they are both fresh, dry, and equally well constructed. Given that Caleche and Caline were initially introduced within months of each other in the early 60s, I wouldn't be surprised to learn there was some cross-inspiration one way or the other.

I'm not sure how reformulation has impacted Caleche, but I'd would assume based on some of the reviews that modern restrictions and synthetics have changed her somewhat. Luckily finding old examples of Caleche doesn't seem particularly difficult or expensive, at least not yet.
31st December, 2009
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Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella

Especially for an old-fashioned, old-school house of tradition like Santa Maria Novella, this 'Nostalgia' is an ingenious example of successful modern perfumery. It is of course ironic that such an avant garde composition should be titled 'Nostalgia' and intends to look backwards historically, but that's all part of the charm.

Other reviewers have described Nostalgia well. The opening blast is gasoline and rubber (yet through some piece of perfumery magic it is totally wearable) and the drydown is to a leathery wood accord sweetened with discrete hints of vanilla. The sillage and longevity are fantastic.

As reviewer everso mentions below, SMN bottles Nostalgia in a plain square bottle with a cheap crimped-on atomizer that lightly leaked during shipment. Besides the unfortunate choice of bottle Nostalgia is a top-notch fragrance that everyone who appreciates leather/rubber type fragrances must check out.
30th December, 2009
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Rue de la Paix by Guerlain

Rue de La Paix is a long discontinued Guerlain that is largely lost to history save the occasional bottle that pops up here and there. This is shame because RdLP is a wonderful, if not mild, perfume that typifies Jacques Guerlain's work. As such there is a timeless quality to this fragrance and it is as wearable today as it was 80 years ago.

RdLP is essentially a soft amber and rose combo with a mild underlying Guerlinade finish. The fragrance is primarily amber on application and evolves to present more and more rose as it develops. The rose note is moderate - not too sweet and a touch green. There is a soft powdery iris in the background and hints of vanilla in the finish. I assume the perfume in my bottle has faded somewhat, but it's very enjoyable nonetheless and it works well in situations that call for a discrete fragrance.
29th December, 2009 (last edited: 19th February, 2010)
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Baldessarini Strictly Private by Baldessarini

I agree with reviewer Sybrarite that there isn't anything slightly feminine about Strictly Private - in fact it's quite typical of modern designer masculines these days. Unfortunately Hugo didn't invest a whole lot in perfumers when developing this scent. It's largely a jacked up synthetic woody-amber with a bit of pepper and a slug of vanilla. If I had to pick one of the myriad generic masculine woody ambers around these days (Givenchy Play, YSL L'Homme, etc.) I may pick this one, but luckily I don't have to.
24th December, 2009
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Pure Gold by Montale

As far as fruity florals go, Pure Gold is a very fine example. Unlike the typical designer offering Pure Gold is restrained and classy, and Montale obviously employs good materials in production. This isn't a groundbreaking fruity floral but it's certainly worthwhile. I get quite a bit of jasmine and mandarin, but the composition is not overly sweet. For a fragrance that contains mandarin, and neroli it is not a citrus overload - the orange blossom adds enough 'green' to tamper that sweetness. After an hour or so a touch of light, musky patchouli enters the picture, but the orange-ish central accord never fully recedes.

Pure Gold isn't something I'd reach for or purchase, but if you're looking for a restrained fruity floral with very good longevity give this a check.
23rd December, 2009
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Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

The more one experiences Dzing! the more facets are revealed and the greater its genius becomes glaringly apparent. To experience Dzing! once, or even just a few times, is probably a waste of time. Plan on getting a large decant (at a minimum) and sampling over and over, otherwise you just won't be experiencing it as it was intended. Dzing! simultaneously smells like many different things while smelling like nothing specific. Depending on what you're looking for, it may smell like a vanillic leather. Sometimes it smells like wet cardboard, and other times it smells like a woody floral. Regardless of which aroma is revealing itself on any given day, there's always a good dose of powdery, sweet iris and saffron in the background.

Unlike some reviewers I get pretty decent longevity from Dzing! but it does stay fairly close to the skin. It's non-intrusive, which is not the norm for abnormal fragrances, and can be worn by men and women in any situation, formal or casual.

Dzing! is my favorite L'Artisan and absolutely one of the most unique fragrances I'm fortunate enough to own. Great, great stuff.
23rd December, 2009
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Theorema by Fendi

My wife has had a bottle of Theorema on her bathroom shelf that she owned long before we even met. For years I never gave it much thought. I don't remember why but one day I sampled it and was very pleasantly surprised - a nice warm, amber/benzoin, I thought. Keep in mine that my wife, not a perfumista, kept this bottle on shelf not far from the window where it's sat for many years through all sorts of temperature changes, sunlight, etc. and therefore it's perhaps not in the best shape. I came across a NIB Theorema and picked one up, ostensibly for my wife but with my own interest in mind.

Experiencing a fresh Theorema brings my appreciation to a whole new level (and demonstrated how faded my wife's old bottle is). Theorema is nearly bursting with warmth. The top notes are dominated by a ripe candied orange (they refer to it in the notes as 'tangelos') accord that includes osmanthus and amber. The sweet orange never fully recedes but over the application an amber/benzoin/vanilla accord becomes more prominent, and there's a hint of cinnamon/pepper, just a hint, that balances the sweetness of the amber accord. Theorema maintains a light, powdery musk that also gets a tad stronger towards the base. Perhaps its the benzoin, but I can't help but draw the comparison to Boucheron Jaipure Homme EdP with respect to the same type of warm, restrained sweet oriental. Theorema is far superior to Jaipur, and in fact it would serve well as an alternative to Jaipur for guys looking for an oriental.

Sillage and longevity are both superb with Theorema, and it's certainly the type of oriental that would be both sexy on a girl and is totally wearable by guys without a moment's hesitation.

Worth seeking out a bottle.
13th December, 2009
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Miroir, Miroir: Miroir des Envies / Mirror of Desires by Thierry Mugler

It's no secret that many Muglers have a distinctly gourmand feel - in fact what makes Angel, A*Men, etc. so interesting is that they combine gourmand notes like cocoa and vanilla with very un-gourmand notes with unique effect. Therefore a pure gourmand from Mugler is bound to be decandent and that's exactly what Miroir des Envies is. Vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and cocoa all expertly balanced with tons of sillage and longevity. What makes Envies special and not 'just another gourmand' is that special 'something' - florals in the background? Aldehydes? Something, that keeps it just a bit restrained and far more sophisticated then spilling a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato on yourself....

Fantastic and highly recommended.
12th December, 2009
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Sandalo by Santa Maria Novella

I once had the opportunity to sniff some pure Mysore Sandalwood oil. Surprisingly it only vaguely resembles the woody, spicy aroma of sandalwood one experiences with most perfumes. One can see the connection, but the pure stuff was buttery, creamy and even a tad sweet. SMN's Sandalo is more closely connected to this unadulterated sandalwood aroma then it is the 'traditional' interpretation of sandalwood found in fragrances like Floris Sandalwood, Profumum Santalum, etc. It's a tad sweet to start but evolves and becomes more aromatic on the skin over time. SMNs run the gambit from absurdly strong (Nostalgia, Peau d'Espagne) to mild (Rosa, Iris, Ambra). Sandalo is closer to the mild end of that spectrum and serves well those situations that call for subtlety when wearing fragrance.

Very desirable.
12th December, 2009
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Vanille Aoud by Martine Micallef

As far as I know this is the only vanilla+oud fragrance now available, and once you smell it you'll wonder why every house isn't doing one. There are countless rose+oud accords and nearly every other oud combo is represented, but this is it for vanilla. The accord makes a lot of sense because the two notes balance and contrast so very well. The sweetness of vanilla tapered by the pungency of oud, and the sharpness of oud balanced by the creaminess of vanilla.

As with all the Micallef ouds, Vanille Aoud is NOT *just* oud plus <enter note here> as many Montales seem to be. This is a composition that is thought out and executed flawlessly. As with the best Montales, vanilla and oud come together and lose their individual identity to become a new, unified "vanilloud" note. As with other vanillas, there are discrete florals in the background giving breadth to the accord. The vanilla part of the accord is very rich and creamy - dense with a distinct hint of caramel adding sweetness. The oud part is not overbearing, and in fact if you didn't know it was oud you may think it was a tabac or other woody note.

Nearly a year after first sampling Vanille Aoud I am now the proud owner of my own bottle. The opportunity to give it a full wear instead of just hand sampling has increased my appreciation for this scent. It comes alive in depth and richness of texture when worn.

There's nothing else out there that really compares to Vanille Aoud. Montale's Red Aoud comes close in that it's also a gourmand/oud (cocoa, not vanilla), but Micallef's own Aoud Gourmet outclasses the Montale.

Utterly fantastic and highly, highly recommended.


Notes: bergamot, ylang-ylang, prune, oud, caramel, musk, vanilla, benzoin
30th November, 2009 (last edited: 28th December, 2009)
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Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma

I've been obsessing over Iris Nobile since I first tried it when it was first released, and my need to own it was sealed with the release of the EdP version. (this review is of the EdP version, which is very similar to the EdT but richer, more lactonic, and with a few added floral notes). I'm celebrating my acquisition of an EdP bottle with this brief review. (The SAs at Nordstroms will be happy that I will no longer be pilfering their tester.)

Despite its name, iris is a supporting/structural type note and I do not experience any distinct iris aroma (though it most certainly present, particularly in the heart/base). The initial blast of Iris Nobile is what sells me on the scent. The combination of citrus, anise and vanilla is simultaneously sweet and yet sharp. For many, many samplings I could have sworn there was some violet in there, but I've never seen it on any note list. The anise and vanilla never fully recede, but are eventually joined by ylang-ylang and iris. Eventually the vanillic base takes over, along with mild woody notes and hints of sweet patchouli. Especially in EdP form the longevity is very good - easily 8+ hours with very respectable sillage.

Personally I prefer the EdP and I've held out buying Iris Nobile until I could get the EdP, but the EdT is certainly very enjoyable and probably a better choice on hotter days (or if you don't like creamy scents).
28th November, 2009
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Fahrenheit Absolute by Christian Dior

I had all sorts of preconceived notions of what Fahrenheit Absolute was going to be like. With the original being so bold and strong I was imagining some massive sillage-bomb of incense and oud, yet somehow within the framework of the original. I did not experience quite what I expected, but I am far from disappointed.

The hallmark of the original Fahrenheit (and I'm talking about the original formula Fahrenheit in the blue/red box, not the current formula in the all-red box) is a huge violet note and that 'gas/fuel' accord. I didn't enjoy Fahrenheit when I first tried it, but over time I came to respect, appreciate, and eventually love it. The Absolute version is only loosely related to the original. On application one experiences the violet note of the original, but more dilute and with a hint of myrrh and a mild cumin note floating on top. It's recognizable as Fahrenheit, but if one stopped here (or smelled it on paper) this fragrance would be very disappointing. Gladly there are many hours of development left to come.

About a half hour after application this watery version of the original tightens up considerably as an oud note emerges and the cumin recedes. From 30-60min after application the oud strengthens and wisps of incense emerge - all the while the violet that hints at the original Fahrenheit remains present in the background. What's gone from Absolute is the gassy/fuel note that would have emerged by now. Slowly the violet itself recedes and an oud/incense accord dominates. It's a wonderfully balanced accord - the oud is nowhere near Montale strength but it's most certainly there. After 2-3 hours the incense begins to dominate and serves as the base of the fragrance. All in all I get a good 5-6 hours from a standard application. The sillage of the original Fahrenheit is pretty significant - my wife once asked me what I was applying from across the house. I'd been hoping that this 'Eau de Toilette Intense' would rival or even beat that sillage, but alas it does not and in fact the sillage is slightly less than the original. However given the strength of oud/incense accord the sillage seems appropriate - more then a typical masculine EdT but not extreme (which probably would have been a bit garish and made the scent less wearable). Overall the balance - the accords themselves and how they are presented via the sillage/longevity - is superb.

Kudos to Dior for creating what is basically a new scent that fits within the framework of today's popular niche accords while also paying homage to one of their great masculine classics.
21st November, 2009
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Malmaison by Floris

It's very rare that I experience a fragrance drastically differently from the great reviewer foetidus, but that's what I'm experiencing with Malmaison. There's definitely a heavy dose of clove, but not nearly as overwhelming as something like Ava Luxe Kretek or even other carnation scents like CdG Carnation. The clove is prominent, but lurking not far underneath is a sweet, almost angelica-like green floral/carnation note and a touch of black tea. The fragrance is fairly linear, but I find it very enjoyable and thus don't really mind. As far as carnation scents go, Malmaison is one of my favorite. Sadly bottles seem to be hard to come by these days....
30th October, 2009
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Armani Privé Cuir Améthyste by Giorgio Armani

Armani tries to combine leather with violets and sadly fails on both counts. Leather in perfumery is an olfactory image created by other ingredients such as birtch tar, styrax, etc. and unfortunately the ingredients in Cuir Amethyste to my nose don't create a true leather. Instead they hint at something resembling leather, which in and of itself isn't such a bad thing but in a fragrance named "Cuir" I'd hoped for something more. The violet nose is devastatingly strong and sweet, and if it were intended to balance the dryness of the 'leather' it does so all too well. As with many Armani fragrances, C-A comes off as unduly synthetic smelling to my nose - again, not necessarily a bad thing but in this case it is.

I tried - I really, really tried to like Cuir Amethyste. I sampled and wore it dozens of times after scoring a handful of the inexpensive refill bottles at Marshalls for $30 a piece, always hoping that perhaps I just wasn't 'getting' the fragrance. I finally passed along the bottles to someone who appreciates the scent more then I do. I'm sure there's a hidden value to C-A that I'm simply not recognizing because I just don't like the fragrance. I'm always a bit suspicious of any fragrance that goes from $170 to $30 within a couple years.
25th October, 2009
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Nahéma Extrait by Guerlain

It's taken me a very long time to get my head around Nahema... roughly 7-8 months in fact. Nahema is simultaneously simple yet excruciatingly complex. The best analogy I can think of is to imagine a mechanical watch with no additional complications, a toubillion, etc. You see a simple face - an hour hand and a minute hand - but what's going on behind the face is absurdly intricate and detailed. Hundreds of pieces move together in concert to create a deceptively simple movement. Nahema's simple 'honeyed rose and vanilla' feels the just the same - we're not smelling simple rose and vanilla but a whole lot of other things that create this simple olfactory impression. One thing about Nahema is for certain... you do not know it and you can not know it until you've worn and sampled it many times. For months I've been playing with my various Nahema samples and bottles and every time I wear it something new is revealed. Were I to have written this review a month or two after first trying Nahema it would have markedly different.

Between EdT, PdT, EdP and parfum - and various reformulations - getting a handle on what Nahema 'is' can be a daunting task. If I had to pick a favorite (and well yes, a superior) formula my vote is for the vintage PdT. The fragrance itself is an unnatural day-glo orange, compared to the simple yellow of today's EdP. As Somerville Metro Man correctly points out, there is simply no way to identify individual notes. It cannot be done. Instead the effect is one of a huuuuuge rose, smelled in 360 degrees, laying on a bed of fruity honey. The boldness of the rose meanders to a honeyed woody vanilla, though the rose never fully vanishes. It all sounds so simple and generic, but in this simplicity lays Nahema's beauty. Sillage borders on dangerous and longevity is absurd. I really enjoyed Vibert's review here because he's so right. To call Nahema a fruity floral is an insult, even if that's what it technically is, because it really is so much more.

Today's EdT and EdP are lacking in the boldness of the rose accord that make Nahema so incredibly distinctive and enjoyable. Instead the 'honeyed' vanilla is much more front and center and competes too much with the rose accord. As if it wasn't confusing enough, the modern parfum puts the rose note right up front and isn't nearly as sweet and honeyed as the lower concentrations. If you're buying a modern formula go for the parfum - otherwise seek out a vintage PdT bottle.
25th October, 2009
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Quand Vient L'Été / Voile d'Été by Guerlain

I was on the verge of purchasing this lovely carnation-centric fragrance until I did a little bit of research. Turns out that Quand Vient l'Ete is another name for the very available Terracotta Voile d'Ete - also known as No.25 (from the "Guerlain Fragrance Collection"). Terracotta is still widely available at many retailers for under $30, and while there may be some minute difference (and there may not be) between QVLE and Terracotta, it's not significant enough to make it worth nearly 6x time the price per/ml.

Still a wonderful fragrance - just don't waste your money on this particular bottling.
25th October, 2009
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Djedi by Guerlain

This review is for the 1996 reissue, not the original 1926 version. I've tried samples of the '26 from two different sources but I'm not certain either of them are sufficiently 'fresh' enough to give a fair review.

The 1996 reissued Djedi is without any question perfect in every possible way, and if there's any one fragrance I could wear every day for the rest of my life it would be Djedi. Djedi is a fragrance so packed with subtlety yet comes off as effortless and simple. The theme is simple: vetiver and sandalwood. The opening is a dark, pungent smoky vetiver that rivals the vetiver note of any of today's vetiver heavy-hitters. Behind the vetiver is a woodiness that reminds me of a much, much richer version of Floris Vetiver's vetiver/wood accord. Over a couple hours the vetiver slowly melds into the most rich and fantastic leathery sandalwood accord with hints of oakmoss and other woody notes in the background. The woody aroma is rich and full, and it rivals any sandalwood or leather scent I've ever experienced. To have the best of vetiver and the best of sandalwood in a single fragrance is truly remarkable. I assume that today with the unavailability of true mysore sandalwood a fragrance like Djedi would not be possible.

Here's the best part of Djedi: the way it wears. Obviously getting any quantity is hard to come by and it cannot be wasted. Luckily Djedi knows for itself how precious it is. One spray and a couple dabs with a Q-tip creates sufficient sillage to surround the wearer in a bubble of heavenly aroma all day. The longevity is truly extraordinary, and I hope to someday (soon....heheh...) have enough Djedi such that just once I can go wild applying it and allow it to penetrate and envelop my entire body. I anticipate it being a religious experience.
23rd October, 2009
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Midnight Oud by Juliette Has a Gun

A very well done oud/rose scent, even if it's nothing particularly innovative. The balance between oud and rose - an accord found in many fragrances these days - is roughly the same as that found in Montale's Black Aoud. Specifically, the oud is the overwhelmingly prominent note with rose lurking underneath. Contrast this proportion to rose/ouds such as Aoud Damascus (Montale) or Aoud Rose (Micallef) which are roughly equal parts oud to rose. Unlike Black Aoud, Midnight Oud is more wearable because it doesn't have the extreme shock-value sillage. What's more, the drydown is sweeter then Black Aoud and the rose is more prominent in the mid/base. Perhaps this is because Midnight Oud does not have the patchouli found in the Montale, I'm not sure. If you have Black Aoud you won't need this, but if you're looking to add one rose/oud to the shelf give Midnight Oud a serious look. Personally the Micallef is my favorite version of rose/oud, but I would definitely take the Midnight Oud over Black Aoud in a minute. In case it wasn't already clear, this fragrance is as unisex as any other oud scent.
12th October, 2009