Perfume Reviews

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Dolce Vita by Christian Dior

Bourdon's Dolce Vita is a close relative of the Serge Lutens 'bois series' (Bois Oriental, Musc, Violette) and a direct descendant of the unparalelled Feminite du Bois (Shiseido/Lutens). *FN1* Apply Dolce Vita to one hand and Bois Oriental to the other and the resemblence is totally unmistakable. Like Bois Oriental, DV's topnotes present a lush, rich collection of fruit notes supported by florals. The hints of apricot, cinnamon, and peach give it a distinctly oriental feel and distinguishes DV from the typical fruity/floral. Like Feminite du Bois, DV maintains a distinctly woody base, but it then adds a big dose of vanilla and heliotrope to sweeten and impart a powdery, almondy feel. Compared to Bois Oriental the Dior is more brash, less refined - but it's also more bold, more fun (and a hell of lot cheaper and easier to purchase).

For an EdT Dolce Vita packs a good punch of sillage and longevity (as is typical of many Dior EdTs). I'm surprised that I don't see more guys review it or mention wearing it. It's certainly not as unisex as something like Hypnotic Poison, but if you are male and enjoy Lutens' fragrances - Bois Oriental in particular - then Dolce Vita won't be much of a jump to make. The girls at my local coffee shop act as my sounding board for my various fragrances, and of everything I've worn in the last two years nothing has received such an overwhelmingly positive response as Dolce Vita (I was wearing EdT layered with parfum). It seems that DV is one of those chameleon scents that becomes very feminine on a woman but then works as a woody/oriental on a guy. A quick note on the hard-to-find parfum... it's an excellent choice if you want a focus on the woody base with less sillage but greater longevity.

Dior has cancelled Dolce Vita but ample stock remains at most online discounters... for now.

FN1 - Turin & Sanchez, Perfumes: The Guide p.101
13th September, 2009
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Orchidée Blanc by L'Artisan Parfumeur

The name Orchidee Blanc is slightly deceptive in that you'd think it's another white floral. Personally I was expecting it to be something like a precursor to La Chase Aux Papillions. Totally, utterly incorrect. In a marketplace crowded with florals and florientals, OB is a distinguished and unique fragrance. OB is an explosion of different floral notes, all held together with a very lactnoic, creamy background. I'm not particularly adept at identifying specific florals, but there's definitely quite a bit of iris, violet, jasmine, gardenia and lily. The blended florals themselves mix with creamy/honeyed vanilla and a touch of amber. I'm not sophisticated enough to accurately describe it's development, but I can report that the creaminess lasts throughout the composition and that it does become lightly woody as it progresses to its base. For being such a full floriental you'd think that OB would be heavy or cluttered, but the genius of the fragrance is that it's remarkably straightforward and totally easy to wear.

Sadly Orchidee Blanc is both long discontinued and seemingly forgotten. I was lucky enough to have a friend who owned a bottle and introduced me to it. I was even luckier when my friend decided she no longer wanted her bottle. If you happen to be reading this review because you've seen a bottle for sale and you're reading up on it to see if it's worth buying, take my advice and just buy it.
11th September, 2009
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Tao by Ava Luxe

Tao is essentially a straight-musk fragrance, and if you are anosmic to the musk Ava uses you may not smell all that much. I detect a couple different light musks with hints of sandalwood. I could swear there's a hint of vanilla in there as well, but that may the the floral notes or even the sweetness of the musks themselves. The musk(s) is very clean and mild, yet soothing.

In extrait form the Tao's sillage is very mild, but a small application easily lasted on my skin over 12 hours before I showered it off.
03rd September, 2009
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Stoned by Solange Azagury-Partridge

I own and love Solange's other fragrance 'Cosmic'. The 'thing' that distinguishes Cosmic is that it's a bona-fide high-quality modern chypre, which is as rare these days as a family sedan with a small-block V8. It's sister 'Stoned' doesn't have a similar claim to fame, but what sets it apart from the typical fragrance is the unbelievably sharp construction (something else rarely found in modern fragrances). What's more, Cosmic's materials are superb and the notes are rich and warm.

Stoned is a classic floriental. The initial rose/jasmine accord has a touch of citrus and quite a bit of powder behind it. The floral accord is exceedingly pretty and just sweet enough - it never enters ditz territory. The first time I sampled Stoned I remember enjoying the initial notes over the course of about a half hour then going about whatever I was doing. When I next sniffed my arm nearly all floralcy was gone, replaced by a dry vanilla. Over the next few sampling I paid better attention and was uniformly impressed with the crisp movement from citrus/floral to a restrained vanilla. From the vanilic heart Stoned gets progressively more sweet, concluding with labdanum/amber base. As with the entire composition, Stoned does not project and stays close to the skin, but you can tell that this isn't a quality issue because the basenotes are as strong and distinct on the skin as the topnotes - this was clearly intended to be a discrete fragrance without loud sillage. In this aspect Stoned is different from many feminine orientals that tend towards the loud and bold (Coco, Shalimar, etc.). Stoned is an oriental that can be worn with subtlety.

Solange Azagury-Partridge is a high-end jewelry designer. Accordingly the Solange perfume bottles are themselves works of art. Stoned comes in a gorgeous red glass globe with a large buddha figure as a stopper. I've only seen pictures of the Stoned bottle, but I can attest to how striking the Cosmic bottle is in person. Therefore part of what you're paying for with the high retail price is the rare bottle. Even though the 100ml cost of the Solange fragrances is the same per/ml as that of the typical niche (Lutens, Parfumerie Generale), the price will stop a lot of people from considering a purchase. Perhaps if a bottle of lesser quality were available such that the cost came down there would be a lot more buzz about both Solange fragrances.
02nd September, 2009
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Café Noir by Ava Luxe

I love coffee scents and Cafe Noir is my favorite of the bunch. The opening is a strong blast of rich, unroasted coffee with particularly potent spices. The strength of the coffee does subside as woody and lavender notes soften it in the heart/base, but coffee is present throughout the composition. There is mild sweetness to Cafe Noir (or else coffee this strong would be unbearable), but compared to fragrances like Pure Coffee and CSP Vanille Mokha Cafe Noir is very dry. I like this because the fragrance is less gourmand and more of a wood/lavender. Like most Ava Luxes the EdP strength is very potent and I get 10-12 hours of longevity from it. I prefer the extrait, with its concentrated punch of notes and 16-20 hour longevity.
02nd September, 2009
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Habit Rouge by Guerlain

With nearly 100 reviews coming before this one there's hardly much I can add with respect to describing the notes, development, etc. Being such a 'standard' Guerlain fragrance I kind of overlooked it for a long time, placing my attention on the more obscure or hard to find scents. Not that I didn't own a decant forever, I just never paid much attention to it because I was so wrapped up in exploring what's new and great.

For whatever reason Habit Rouge has really caught my attention over the last few months. The more and more fragrances I try the more I realize that Habit Rouge represents masculine perfumery at near-perfection if not total perfection. The HR story has been told before; crisp citrus moving to patchouli/vanilla then eventually a leather base. The movement from top to mid to base is steady and solid, and the moment in the base where all the accords blend together - what I personally call *the Habit Rouge accord* - is my favorite moment of wearing the fragrance. It just exudes class, yet it's not stuffy or so formal that it can't be worn any day, in any situation.

I own all the concentrations (well, just a large decant of l'extrait, it IS expensive!) and find they all have their time and place. The EdC has the brightest citrus and the most development. For an EdC the longevity is very good, and the citrus lingers for a long time. The EdT is the best balanced and shows off the fragrance in all its stages. Much is made of the 'oud' note in the EdP.. this is kind of a red herring because while agarwood is a listed note there is no distinct oud at any point in the fragrance. The citrus topnotes are compressed in the EdP and the fragrance almost entirely moves right to the 'Habit Rouge accord' base, and the entire fragrance itself has a very distinct woody funk present throughout the fragrance. One would think the sillage would be overwhelming in the EdP but once the initial topnotes fade the sillage moves down to pretty much the same level as the other concentrations. L'extrait version is closest to the EdP and as you'd expect the sillage is discrete but it lingers forever on the skin.

Habit Rouge can be worn comfortably by either sex without compromising its masculinity (just like their feminine fragrances can be worn by men without compromising femininity on women). Whether you're a Guerlain fan or just appreciate the great classics of perfumer - Habit Rouge in at least one of its iterations belongs on your shelf.
02nd September, 2009
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Chaps (new) by Chaps [Ralph Lauren]

This re-issue of Chaps is an exclusive to the Kohl's department store, a discount-store that's above Wal-Mart but not quite Macy's (for those who don't know). I'm very skeptical of designer masculine releases, but I'm always willing to sample them and give them a fair shot. After all, who knows? With countless generic masculines being pumped out by the designers in the last 1-2 years, this little Chaps re-issue by Ralph Lauren doesn't exactly break the mold, but it does stand out as being one of the best of the bunch.

The topnotes aren't a crisp or distinct citrus, but rather what feels to me to be a light amber sweetened with citrus and some herbal/green notes in the background. The amber sweetness borders dangerously close to being another generic 'woody amber', but there's enough balance with the herbal notes to make it interesting. The original Chaps is an herbal powerhouse, so I'm glad to see at least a nod to this heritage with the herbal accord. Chaps also stands apart by developing though distinct phases. As the citrus fades the amber persists and is joined by subtle anise and mild spicy notes. After about an hour a base develops that includes a musky, synthetic feeling vetiver and some generic 'smoky' notes. Sillage is decent and longevity average (4-5 hours).

I was interested enough after in-store sampling to pay $12 for a 15ml mini so I could test Chaps at my leisure at home. The mini sat for over a year in my cabinet before I found it and started playing with it this week. I gave it a full wear today and I enjoyed it, even if I don't plan on buying a full bottle. We're not talking about something that's going to compete with the Serge Lutens or Parfumerie Generales of the world, but I can't honestly give this Chaps reissue a bad review. Certainly within the context of being a discount designer scent it is well crafted and well worth sampling.
01st September, 2009
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Les Elixirs Charnels - Oriental Brûlant by Guerlain

Guerlain, with it's famous use of vanilla and its legendary oriental fragrance Shalimar, did not have in it's product lineup a straightforward amber/oriental. Oriental Brulent has filled that glaring gap in the lineup. The strength of OB is in its luxurious simplicity - yet it still differentiates itself from the countless other ambers on the market. OB presents a rich amber that is restrained in its sweetness. Mingled with the amber are hints of bitter almond (a note we're seeing a lot more in recent Guerlains, i.e. 180 Ans), vanilla, and a touch of smoky incense. These accompanying notes meld in and out, enhancing and balancing the stately amber throughout the composition.

When the Les Elixirs were released last year I wrestled with a purchasing decision, unable to pick between OB and Chypre Fatale. Ultimately I went with OB and I'm glad I did because it's really *the* killer, super-high end amber in my wardrobe. 3-4 sprays wraps me in a bubble of amber that lasts all day and long into the night. Sillage is very good and longevity is extraordinary (as is Chypre Fatale's as well) and the materials feel to be of top notch quality. OB doesn't have nearly the complexity of development that Chypre Fatale has, and nor is it as unique, but what OB has is unquestionable class and timelessness.

OB is absolutely pricey for an amber fragrance, but unlike countless other high-priced niche fragrances this one absolutely feels worth the money. If you can afford a bottle and want THE drop-dead-gorgeous amber you need look no further.
01st September, 2009
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Very Irrésistible for Men Fresh Attitude by Givenchy

Given what I like and don't like in fragrance, there's no reason I should like VI-FA much less own a bottle. I haven't spritzed it in I don't know how long, but after I sampled it last week for the first time in a while I've been drawn to it over the last few days. Based on the original Very Irresistable theme of cocoa, mint, and hazelnut the 'Fresh Attitude' (worst name ever, btw) version cuts some of the sharpness of the mocha out and replaces it with a light grapefruit/orange citrus accord in the topnotes. Citrus, mint, cocoa, and hazlenut? Sounds dreadful but for some reason it works. The balance is remarkable and the composition is indeed 'fresh' without being mindless and boring. It's definitely different, that's for sure.

The citrus fades over a couple hours, leaving the mint/cocoa/hazelnut heart accord of the original VI. I get hints of vetiver as the heart moves to a standard woody base. I know it's damnation by faint praise, but at least Givenchy didn't just jam in the standard 'woody amber' found in most recent masculines, including their own very uninspired 'Play'.

I can't tell you to scream to the mall and buy a bottle as my own bottle may see use once a year...maybe. However VIFA is not a bad fragrance and in a cluttered mall case full of boring copies of each other, VIFA is a notch above.
01st September, 2009
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Lily by Christian Dior

Normally I'm pretty wary of lily=centric fragrances because I find the note can get a little too thick and 'screetchy'. Dior Lily is probably my favorite interpretation. Lily is prominent, but there's a nice balance of mild citrus and green notes that keep the lily note from being too overpowering. It's a lily soliflore without the aspects of lily soliflores I tend to not like. Very nice.
01st September, 2009
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Accenti by Gucci

Accenti?? I'd never heard of this fragrance until I saw sample vials on the site of a discount retailer. I gave it a whirl and ordered a couple samples, and I loved them so much I had to find a bottle (which I did very quickly). To say Accenti is a 'fruity floral' isn't really fair because of the connotation in today's perfume market. Yes, it is a fruity floral, but you simply must believe me that this is an *adult* fruity floral. It's not sugar sweet, it's not ditzy, and most importantly it IS extremely well made. As other reviewers mention, Accenti is extremely potent - one spray provides ample sillage for many, many hours.

The initial blast is of 'fruit salad' of sorts; Black currant, berry and peach combined in the most absurdly lush fashion. The fruity accord is not sugary sweet, but it is very bold and...well...bold. Rose and jasmine are in the background, and as the opening blast of fruit calms down the floral heart comes more clearly into focus, balancing and drying the fruit notes. The movement from fruit blast to is quite remarkable, and a subtle layer of tonka moves in with the florals, supporting the heart notes and adding a subtle nutty/woodiness. The heart persists for an incredibly long time - hours in fact. There is a slow movement to the base as a subtle creamy vanilla twinged with sandalwood merges with the floral heart. Like the eviewer foetidus, this is my favorite aspect of Accenti. The combo of fruit notes, florals, vanilla, and woody notes is so smooth and full that I can think of no other fruity florals that can even compare.

Accenti is profoundly feminine, and there is no way around it. It wears fantastically on women, and I love suggesting it to my wife. However for the guys out there not bothered by fruity florals, this one is truly remarkable. I have no explanation as to why it was discontinued or why, unlike some 'lost' designers (i.e. D&G By) there is little to no buzz about it. Fortunately this makes bottles, especially lightly used bottles, ripe for the picking on eBay.

31st August, 2009
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Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

If you're new to fragrance, if you don't like thick floral leather chypres, and if you prefer sweet gourmands and fruity florals to dry, green scents please do yourself a favor and avoid Aromitics Elixir with all your might as you will hate it. However if you're looking for a woody, green floral that is simultaneously rich yet intricately layered then march down to your local mall and plunk down $35 for a 50ml bottle at the Clinique counter. This may just be the most interesting, most vintage-evoking perfume you can buy at the mall today. A thick layer of oakmoss covers a heart of jasmine and rose that does not relent through the base. Non-specific 'green notes' meander about and musk softens as the perfume progresses. Sillage and longevity are extreme. Just today, a full hours after application I received a rare 'nice cologne!' from another guy, and he was standing well on the other side of the store we were in. Worried about this being too feminine? Forget it - this has more testosterone then anything at the boys' counter but still wears as a sophisticated and classy feminine.

One last thing - don't expect to love AE on first sniff. Expect it to take many samplings, but as with all great works of art this perfume is worth the investment of time needed to grasp it. Thumbs UP UP UP.
29th August, 2009 (last edited: 04th June, 2010)
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Dior Dior by Christian Dior

'Dior Dior' is something of a forgotten 70s Dior release. In terms of naming fragrances, it looks like Dior finally ran out of snappy ways to use the word 'Dior' as a root and just said "eh...it's Dior...uh, Dior! yup, go with that Dior Dior." I'm something of a vintage Dior collector, or at least I wish I was, so I've always kept my eye open for a bottle and finally acquired one.

With no other source to compare it to I can't speak to whether the bottle I received has been damaged by time, and if so how much. The fragrance is definitely related to Roudnitska's "Diorella/Diorama/Parfum de Therese" line of fragrances. I'd be surprised if Roudnistka didn't play some part in creating Dior Dior, even if just indirectly. The "overrripe melon" topnotes are there over what I suspect to be a chypre structure. It distinguishes itself from the bunch with a heavier floral component and more prominent lily of the valley in the heartnotes. If I had to describe Dior Dior in a sentence I'd say it's 'mellower and more subtle version of Diorella'. Again, it may be that the strength of my bottle has faded with time and thus I'm only reviewing a shadow of this fragrance's former self - but what I smell I most definitely enjoy and will enjoy as a unique member of my budding vintage Dior collection.

29th August, 2009
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Wood & Absinth by Mark Buxton

Mark Buxton's Wood & Absinthe present a huge whallop of the 'woody amber' material used in many modern masculines, ranging from Givenchy Play to two different Boadicia the Victorious fragrances (Intense is one of them, the other I believe is Exotic but I may be wrong on that). Basically the fragrance is this woody amber with a progression of different accords that attempt to mask what we're really smelling. The intial blast of an herbal/anise accord similar to absinthe readily gives way to 'the' woody amber accord. At first there is a sweet floral/woody note (rosewood? perhaps) that joins the woody amber, then a sharper, more peppery accord takes over trying to hide the woody amber. From this point the fragrance persists for a few hours and fades out without further development.

For the purposes of full disclosure, this review is not based on a full wear but rather only three arm-samplings. Normally this would be wholly insufficient experience to gather enough information for a review, but sometimes you just know what you're smelling. I'm surprised Buxton, an excellent perfumer, would put his name on something like this. There's little structure and zero that distinguishes it from the myriad other woody ambers available at the mall these days. This is a rare thumbs down for me.
28th August, 2009
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Kelly Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

It's taken me nearly 18 months of sampling and wearing Kelly Caleche to feel confident enough to write a review that means something. This length of time is testament to just how interesting and subtle Kelly Caleche is. The fact that all KC's subtle components form to make a seemingly simple whole illustrates the genius of Jean Claude Ellena. Now that Hermes has introduced an EdP and parfum we have different variations on the KC theme to choose from. This review is of the EdT, with comments on the other concentrations following.

I did not care for KC the first few times I sampled it. I have no explanation why, but I was determined to keep sampling it until I wrapped my head around it, as if once I understood it I would like it. KC is frequently referred to as a 'leather' fragrance. From discussions with many people I've come to the conclusion that a percentage of the population smells the notes that comprise the leather accord as 'leather', and another percentage of the population does not interpret these notes as leather. I am in the latter population, and I have strained to make my brain interpret the notes as 'leather'. Therefore do not be confused if you sample KC and the leather that others describe doesnt' jump out at you - you are not alone.

I see KC as being comprised of three distinct parts. First there is a 'vegetal/green' part, second there is a 'rose/mimosa' part, and finally there is a leather part. On first application the vegetal/green accord is most apparant. Light green notes and discrete florals combine to create a "vegetal note". This opening is touched with a hint of rose that balances and sweetens it. Burr's description of the notes being akin to 'tomato stems' is very apt. The vegetal opening fades fairly quickly, moving smoothly to the 'rose/mimosa'. The central rose accord is really the star attraction of the fragrance. Unlike Hermes' own Rose Ikebana, which is balanced by strong citrus, the rose in KC is soft and lush, sweetened by a vanillic mimosa that adds a touch of powder to the heart. It is at this point that the leather accord begins to appear. If I close my eyes, relax, and inhale the aroma of KC I can detect a soft, smooth swatch of leather covered in roses. The leather doesn't jump out at me personally, but there is no question that there is a smoothness in the central rose accord that is totally unique to this fragrance. The vegetal/green notes don't fully recede, and for a while the vegetal, rose, and leather components are in perfect balance. Not smelling the distinct leather that other experience doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the fragrance, and as a rose/green scent KC is superb. The heartnotes persist for a long time - hours. The vegetal notes slowly become less distinct and fade out, leaving the rose and leather accords. Light woody notes join the leather accord and become the base of the fragrance, all with a hint of rose. Sillage and longevity are both very good.

The new EdP offers a distinct interpretation of the EdT - not simply higher concentration. In the EdP version the volume of the rose accord is turned up to max. Vanilla is added to the mimosa, making the rose accord both bolder and sweeter - which totally overshadows the green/vegetal notes of the EdT. Rose and vanilla are prominent from first application, all the way through the base. On the whole, the EdP is louder and not as well balanced, but it's also more 'fun' and at times borders on being a rose/gourmand. If you're looking for a stronger version of the EdT try the new parfum, the composition of which is closer to that of the EdT but much stronger.

As many other reviewers have commented, Kelly Caleche is firmly unisex and can be enjoyed by guys and gals comfortably.
28th August, 2009
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Hiris by Hermès

Hermes Hiris is, to me, the 'standard bearer' of iris fragrances. There's nothing overly complex going on - Hiris is a straightforward and simple presentation of an iris soliflore. The presented iris note is powdery, earthy and slightly 'green'. I put Hiris in the same class of iris fragrances as TDC Bois d'Iris and L'Artisan Bois Farine. Hiris isn't a 'bready' as those two, and it's nowhere near as fierce and cold as Lutens' Iris Silver Mist.

Hiris is a skin scent, and both the sillage and longevity are mild, even within the genre of iris fragrances. Even though it doesn't come off the shelf often, Hiris is my one and only iris soliflore. It goes without saying that Hiris will not appeal to you if you don't like iris. For everyone else I suggest you forgo sampling and just find a discount bottle!
28th August, 2009
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Hot Leather by Mark Buxton

Hot Leather is a perfectly good fragrance that is misnamed, and unfortunately those seeking a strong leather fragrance may be disappointed. I'd suggest pretending the name is something else and expect a spicy citrus/floral, especially for the first hour after application. The fragrance starts with a lightly spicy citrus/floral accord that approximates a leather note similar to the leather note in Armani's Cuir Amethyste. The leather accord deepens a little as it moves to a woody/floral heart, becoming smoother then Armani and getting closer to Creed's REL (but not nearly as smooth or rich). The scent fizzles out by the time it reaches the base, with a light, woody leather all that remains.

Overall this is pretty tame fragrance with only a hint of development. As a leather fragrance it's too mild and a floral it's too muted. Sillage is fairly discrete and longevity average. If you're looking for a true floral 'hot leather' I'd suggest the timeless Knize Ten or Etat Libre's Tom of Finland.
27th August, 2009
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Bois des Îles Parfum by Chanel

I've enjoyed Bois des Iles for quite some time but I've never dared write a review because the sheer scope of its beauty surpasses my capacity to articulate or describe it. Reading Vibert's excellent comments makes me realize that I need not have to write 'the topnotes are this, the basenotes are that..." to write a good review. If you're looking for a specific description of notes there are many such reviews on this page, zztop's being particularly good.

Therefore this review will describe the feeling of Bois des Iles. It is class in a bottle and it is unmistakably Chanel. I love giving myself a healthy application and basking in a fragrance-bubble of BdI's blend of florals and sweetened sandalwood, the mix of which is given the slightest gourmand hint and then lifted by aldehydes. Many Chanel fragrances exude class - No.5, No.22, Egoiste, etc. - what sets Bois des Iles apart is it's remarkable versatility. It can be worn comfortably by men or women anywhere and in any situation. For some reason I never feel comfortable knocking around the house in a scent such as Egoiste. Something about it requires a suit or tux. Bois des Iles fits whatever I'm doing, whether it be dressing up for an event or walking my dog to the local Starbucks. Not only does it fit whatever I'm doing, but it enhances whatever I'm doing by wrapping me in its warm, inviting aroma.

As Vibert articulates, everyone with an interest in perfumery must sample Bois des Iles. I would take the suggestion one further. I recommend that one continually revisit Bois des Iles. I was fairly new to fragrance when I first sampled it and all I knew was that I liked it. Months later I could appreciate its sandalwood note and aldehydes, and months after that the subtle almond, vanilla, and gingerbread was what bowled me over. Over the last few months my interest has turned towards vintage, and today I can appreciate the timeless genius of this Beaux creation as a perfume that is as relevant today as it was nearly 85 years ago, yet without feeling the slightest bit dated.

Today I wearing BdI from an early '90s bottle. Sadly the reformulation performed when BdI was moved to the Les Exclusifs line has taken something away from this fragrance. It's still Bois des Iles but the sandalwood isn't quite as rich, the ginger not as sharp, and in general it has a more floral feel. If you can find a pre-Exclusifs bottle I recommend doing so, even if it requires patience. I waited nearly two years for the right bottle to fall in my lap and now that it has I can't recall how I lived without it.
25th August, 2009
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Dior Homme Cologne by Christian Dior

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Dior Homme and Dior Homme Intense EdP. It took me a while to come across a bottle of Dior Homme Cologne and it was worth the wait! First off, there is no indication that this is an EdC concentration, rather it is simply titled 'Cologne'. The strength and longevity indicate it's likely an EdT concentration. The Cologne is NOT a watered-down version of the original. Rather it's a new interpretation of the original, and a very successful one.

Compared to the original EdT, the iris on which the fragrance is constructed is far more prominent while the gourmand notes (vanilla, cocoa) are far more subtle. Overall this is probably the best version of all the Dior Hommes vis-a-via balance and construction. The brightness of the topnotes hints at an underlying touch of citrus not noticeable in the EdT. The vanilla, cocoa, vetiver, and leather come in slowly - never overpowering the iris.

While the sillage isn't as strong as the EdT, the longevity remains very good. Having a 125ml bottle encourages me to use Dior Homme Cologne more like a body spray, liberally applying over my entire torso. I can enjoy the fragrance without projecting it ten feet around me (as happens with the EdP), making the Cologne perfect for situations that call for less sillage.

While I still love the brash, gourmand vulgarity of the EdP, I can't help but think that Dior Homme Cologne is the 'ultimate' and most well done expression of Dior Homme.
24th August, 2009
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2 Oeillet by Prada

Holy smoke! Where has this fragrance been all my life? I've been on the hunt for the perfect carnation fragrance and in the process came across this one, and in so doing found a truly amazing (all-around) fragrance. Carnation has a naturally clove-like smell, but the success of a carnation fragrance depends on whether it has the proper accompanying notes. Scents like Ava Luxe Kretek and Floris Malmaison can take it too far, becoming too spicy and Guerlain Terracotta Voile d'Ete (an excellent fragrance) dilutes the carnation note with too many floral notes. The Terracotta is good but it's not the carnation-centric fragrance as it purports to be.

No.2 Oeillet gets it just right. The intial blast of carnation is woody and rich, with its natural clove spiciness and a twinge of sweet rose in the background. This fragrance, like the other Prada Exclusif parfums, is fairly linear. However there is a slow and subtle development. Over the first half hour there is a mild sweetening as the sharpness of the carnation blends into a sandalwood-like background and the composition itself becomes slightly powdery and musky. After an hour the fragrance settles into a musky sandalwood with a hint of heliotrope and a lingering carnation aroma.

The sillage and longevity are superb with No.2 - again, typical of the line. It's truly a shame that Prada keeps these parfums so quiet because it would truly add luster to the house of Prada Parfums if only a few more people could experience them.
22nd August, 2009
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Noble by Boadicea the Victorious

Noble begins with a cheery bergamot note joined by a hint of rose. The hint grows stronger, eventually growing into a rose-dominated rose/bergamot accord. I really like rose fragrances, but there is something that is so sickly sweet about the rose in Noble that I find it very unpleasant. I'm not sure if it's whatever they use to give the rose a 'green' edge, if it's the patchouli coming in too early, or if it's the 'plasticy' synthetic note that Moltening describes in his review, but whatever it is I don't enjoy it. I own tons of rose fragrances. There are honeyed-roses, vanilla-roses, green-roses, etc. Noble is none of these. Based on the notes I would expect this top accord to eventually fade into a rose/vanilla/patchouli a la a fragrance such as Lady Vengence by Juliette Has a Gun, only it never comes. The bergamot/rose just fades out over a 3-4 hours.

By itself I would give the fragrance a thumbs down. When you consider that 100ml is $450 (?!) this fragrance may represent the most cruel joke in niche perfumery. I mean... you've GOT to be kidding me. Whatever justifies this price I have no idea. I sincerely hope that whoever thinks that they can get away with charging nearly half a grand for a simple rose fragrance that is outshined by countless others at 1/10th the price learns their lesson in some meaningful way that causes them to explicity realize the error of their ways.
20th August, 2009
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Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange

Etat Libre seems to have more leather fragrances than any other house, and each occupies a different niche by presenting leather differently. Rien is the forceful, incense/rubber/smoky side of leather. Sure, there are hints of rose and iris if you pay careful attention - and even a touch of vanilla towards the base. However the general thrust of Rien is that is a very dry, bold and smoky leather.

Unlike some fragrances that are loaded with strong notes (i.e. the new "Complex" by Boadicea), Rien doesn't become a mess or overbearing. In fact just the opposite: the strong leather notes present a unique and uncompromising leather that is totally wearable and enjoyable. Sillage and longevity are off the charts with Rien. It doesn't F-around.

A very high recommendation, but be warned Rien isn't for those who don't already have a healthy appreciation for dark, smoky leather fragrances.
20th August, 2009
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Louanges Profanes 19 by Parfumerie Generale

Louanges was one of the last PGs I needed to sample to try the entire line, and in some ways I'm glad I saved it for last. Louanges is perhaps the most un-PG of the line. Fragrances in the line have a tendency towards the rich, with full compositions with loads of sillage that tend towards the gourmand. Conversely Louange typifies the line in the sense that Guillarme uses unusual combinations of notes for novel and successful effect. In this case we have a citrus/floral with a dash of incense. PGs line doesn't have a chypre, and in many ways Louanges approximates a chypre with it's combination of citrus, floral and woody notes.

As vibert mentions, this fragrance moves quickly for the first 10 minutes. Starting off with a bright neroli/lily accord, Louanges quickly becomes powdery, lightly sweet, and a bit soapy. A mild incense note moves in to create a smoky and woody contrast to the citrus/floral accord. After moving so quickly at first this heart accord then persists for a long time. It's a very enjoyable accord - the balance of green, citrus, powder/soap, and woody incense sounds like it would be too much but in fact it is far more transparent then you'd think reading a description of it. What's really nice is that the notes are so well blended that the individual notes aren't distinct, and in this way Louanges resembles the 'chypre accord'. The sillage is less than that of most Parfumerie Generales, meaning it's typical of average niche fragrances and very good. This heart accord eventually fades to a mossy/woody base, also powdery. Overall I get about 6 hours of longevity.

For people not fond of PG's gourmand style this may be a good fragrance to try. Of course the PG florals (i.e. Ether de Lilas, Ilang Ivohibe, etc.) aren't gourmand, but many are. Louanges is a unique position and occupies a unique position in the PG line.

Highly recommended.
17th August, 2009
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Cosmic by Solange Azagury-Partridge

The combination of restrictions on materials like oakmoss and the popularity of sweet notes in feminine perfumes has largely eliminated the 'modern chypre'. Those fragrances that purport to be chypres, such as the reissue of Givenchy III and Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, either contain negligible amounts of oakmoss or none at all and thus are not actually chypres. They only approximate chypres.

Cosmic by Solange Azagury-Partridge is, in fact, a TRUE chypre. The bergamot topnote is true and sweetened by a touch of rose. Cosmic moves quickly to a heart that contains a heady dose of florals. Jasmine is particularly prominent but I also get a huge slug of powdery iris and a good amount of myrrhe that makes the heartnotes very dry. The sharpness of the jasmine subsides as vanilla makes an appearance before the heart yields to the base. The traditional oakmoss drydown is a muted, slightly overshadowed by the florals that slowly fade out - the oakmoss itself is touch sweet and while it's not as prominent as the oakmoss in classic chypres it's definitely present.

This fragrance will not reveal itself via a dab or a couple sprays on the arm - not even close. I enjoyed Cosmic when I first sampled it but it wasn't until I got a bottle and gave myself a full wear that it came alive. The sillage is surprisingly loud, especially for a chypre. Truly a wonderful aroma surrounds the wearer, and as a fan of chypres I enjoy wearing Cosmic tremendously. I won't lie - I was lucky and didn't pay full retail for Cosmic and I'm not sure I would pay full retail even though it's wonderful. Ignoring the price and judging the fragrance for itself I can't recommend Cosmic enough - a must-try for chypre fans.


Notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Rose, Jasmine Absolute, Iris Absolute, Patchouli, Vetiver, Labdanum, Opoponax, Myrrh, Vanilla, Oakmoss
16th August, 2009
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Heliotrope by Etro

Heliotrope is one of my favorite floral notes, and I've got a little collection of heliotrope soliflores beginning to grow on my shelf, Etro being the most recent. Unlike the heliotrope soliflores by Crown Perfumery and Santa Maria Novella, Etro's version adds a little of vanilla. Heliotrope itself has a naturally vanillic-almond powderiness, but it also has a green/floral aroma as well. With the addition of vanilla, and perhaps a little extra musk as well, the Etro version loses the green/floral aspect of heliotrope and becomes more of a gourmand instead of floral (though there is a floral underpinning evident). Even with the vanilla added it never becomes sugary sweet - the sweetness is restrained and balanced.

Of course this doesn't detract from what a nice fragrance this is - just a description. The scent is essentially linear, and it lasts plenty long. The sillage is appropriate for this type of fragrance - specifically, it's average. Too much and Heliotrope would become pretty obnoxious, but Etro gets the volume level pretty much dead on.

A really nice fragrance.
15th August, 2009
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Câline by Jean Patou

When Caline was introduced in 1964 it was marketed as a 'perfume for young women'. One can imagine that the heaviness and sophistication of Patou's legends like Joy and 1000 were a bit too much for teenage girls, even back in the 60s. Knowing the thinking behind the development and marketing of Caline provides an unintended commentary on the state of perfumery in 2009. Specifically, by today's standards Caline is a wonderfully fresh and enjoyable green fragrance, far more sophisticated, subtle and layered then the fragrance intended for adults today. The fragrances intended for 'young women' today are typically the dreaded bug-juice-sweet fruity florals promoted by the 'celebutard' of the month.

Caline feels a lot like a chypre and I wouldn't be surprised if the formal bergamot/oakmoss structure is lurking underneath. Unlike a typical chypre Caline adds a huge blast of aldehydes - more than in any other chypre fragrance I've experienced. The aldehydes are accompanied by light citrus and crisp green notes. As the initial burst of aldehydes settles down, leaving a bouquet of green notes, jasmine and other subtle white florals. Caline straddles the line perfectly between green-heavy scents that are a bit too bitter and chypres that feature lots of mossy/woody notes. There is definitely a green bitterness to Caline, but it is balanced well by the aldehydes and a subtle touch of rose (and iris, I suspect). At this point one would expect a movement towards a simple oakmoss base but you would be wrong - the green/floral heart gives way to a gorgeous carnation/labdanum accord that starts out with carnation's clove-like spiciness and slowly melds into a smooth labdanum base. The labdanum, with a hint of sandalwood, lingers for a good 2-3 hours before fading out.

Wow! To think that such a crisply and expertly constructed perfume should be intended for young women illustrates the artistry and pride of creation used by the perfume industry of yesteryear vs. the mindless, cheap drivel of today. I have to laugh when people complain that a fragrance "feels dated." I interpret this statement as saying "quality, rich compositions are too much to process." Generations of fragrance collectors think that bland, average compositions are acceptable and can't wrap their head around vintage quality. It's a shame that treasures like Caline are essentially lost, with the occasional bottle popping up now and then online.

Patou Caline is a treasure.

Notes (per theperfumedcourt.com): green citrus, aldehydes, spices, May rose, jasmine, orris, ylang ylang, cyclamen, cedarwood, santal, labdanum, moss and musk.
13th August, 2009
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L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme Extrême / Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

Count me among those who like the original but not enough to own it. The EdP however, is a favorite. The citrus from the original is condensed into a tiny moment of tartness that recedes within the first few minutes. From the first moment L'Instant Extreme blasts you with a powdery cocoa, vanilla, anise, and subtle woody notes. I suspect some heliotrope and perhaps even some iris underpinning the composition based on the powderiness and the light subtle florals that fill out the fragrance. As other reviewers have notes, this fragrance is wonderful study in balance between bitter and sweet gourmand notes. The woody notes keep L'Instant EdP from ever being too foody or a full-blown gourmand. Sillage and longevity are fantastic.

With respect to Guerlain, I see L'Instant as foreshadowing the gourmand/floral style that has become the trademark of the current Guerlain fragrances released after Jean-Paul's retirement. Playing off the traditional Guerlinade, this new generation of fragrances (Quand Vient la Pluie, Cuir Beluga, Iris Ganache, etc.) use the vanilla/heliotrope to full effect balanced against other notes and accords. They are half gourmand and half something else. L'Instant - and the EdP in particular - were among the first of this generation of fragrances. I would be remiss not at least briefly mentioning the comparison to Dior Homme (especially the EdP). Yes, they both use cocoa, vanilla, and iris. Yes, they are both masculine gourmands. However, for some reason the two fragrances are different enough - perhaps the leather in Dior Homme - to not duplicate each other at all.

According to the 2008 Guerlain catalog L'Instant Extreme EdP was still in production. As of spring 2009 it was not available at the exclusive US outlets such as Bergdorfs. I don't know whether it's still available from La Maison, but it does make the occasional appearance on eBay and through random online retailers. I suggest grabbing a bottle if you're a fan of Guerlain and/or masculine gourmands. You won't regret it.
11th August, 2009
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Rose Aoud by Martine Micallef

While it seems that many niche houses are releasing oud lines these days (or at least oud-heavy scents), Micallef's Aoud line stands out above the rest, including (and especially) Montale. Montale seems to be in to release as many fragrances as possible, causing many of their new releases to be lacking in different aspects. Especially the rose/ouds fragrances, of which Montale has at least a half-dozen, seem to just be rose and oud thrown together in different ratios and bottled.

Micallef's Aouds are meticulously balanced, with the oud simulaneously balancing and allowing the contrasting notes to shine. Rose Aoud is particularly well balanced. The rose note is full and sweet, obviously derived from high quality rose oil. In fact the rose note surpasses the quality of Montale's Highness Rose vis-a-vis depth of the rose note. The oud note is at first strong and medicinal but without being overpowering. The strength of the oud recedes somewhat rapidly, though it never fully disappears. The rose itself starts out as fairly sweet but is slowly joined by subtle green notes and eventually a lightly sweet woodiness. The sillage at first is extreme but it settles into a reasonably strong fragrance. As with many of the MIcallefs, longevity is very, very good. When I sample this on my arm at night it's present well into the next morning.

There are some guys for whom anything with rose will be considered feminine, and they will likely not want to wear this. For everybody else Rose Aoud is fully wearable and highly recommended. The only other rose/oud I'd consider would by Amouage Lyric Men, though that's an entirely different take on the accord. I would take the Micallef over any Montale rose/oud, regardless of price.
11th August, 2009
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Eau de Réglisse by Caron

Odd that this doesn't get more - or any - attention at all. Perhaps it's just too obscure, or perhaps because it's a 'new' Caron whereas nearly all others have significant lineage. Either way, it's really quite interesting.

The topnotes are a tasty accord of lemon and coffee - there is an initial quick blast of anise that immediately recedes (I assume it's there to be smelled on paper), leaving the lemon/coffee for a good 20-30 minutes. As the citrus fades the anise/liquorice comes in for a more solid appearance of a couple hours. I believe there's some subtle patchouli backing up the anise, and the heart eventually fades to a woody base. Overall Eau de Reglisse is a simple but unique fragrance and something that works in pretty much any situation or weather. Nice stuff.

Unlike Yohji Homme this scent isn't nearly as gourmand or sweet (Yohji is still my preferred liquorice fragrance). The longevity and sillage is good, and compared to Hermes Brin de Reglisse the Caron has more presence (and lasts 10x longer). As with many Carons there is a huge disparity between suggested retail price and the discount sites - I picked up a bottle for about $25.
11th August, 2009
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Vetiver by Floris

Whether or not I like a vetiver fragrance is very much dependent on the vetiver's accompanying notes. Too bitter or sour (Goutal), salty (Lalique), or herbal (Villorosi) and it doesn't appeal to me. A few months back I went on a quest to find *the* vetiver that was right for me, and after sampling pretty much every vetiver available I decided on Floris. A pleasant vetiver is joined by mild citrus and geranium on application, as well as some light spices in the background. The strong vetiver note moves to the heart, and the vetiver itself is presented to emphasize the grassier aspects of the note (as opposed to the earthier), and the vetiver joins a very stately sandalwood-heavy woody accord. From there a woody/incense base closes out the fragrance.

Since going on my quest I've come to appreciate other vetivers - Givenchy, LezNez, and Malle, but Floris remains my go-to when I need a crisp vetiver that fits any situation, season, or mood. It's discontinued so stock up before it's gone!
11th August, 2009