Perfume Reviews

Reviews by bbBD

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Total Reviews: 363
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3 Cuir Ambre by Prada

I'm surprised that I'm the first to review No.3 Cuir Ambre, but given that the Prada exclusives have received very little attention on BN pehaps I shouldn't be.

Have you ever had a fragrance that you wanted upon first learning of it, even though you have no idea what it's like? That's been me with this. I live nowhere near a Prada boutique, and the one time I was traveling and visited one it was long out of stock (it is available at the time of writing from Liberty in London). I have a thing for leather fragrances, and I have a thing for ambers, so the idea of low-run high-quality cuir ambre appealed to me. I did buy an expensive sample, so I knew I liked it, but the sample wasn't enough to actually give it a full wear. A special thanks to fellow BNer ultranova3 for hooking me up with a great price on a full bottle.

OK.... to the fragrance. I'm not sure what the real concentration is... it's marketed as a parfum, but it's not quite that strong - it's more of a strong EdP. It's essentially a hig-quality, linear leather and amber fragrance. Unlike Pierre Cardin Centaure Cuir Ambre, which is 1:10 leather:amber, the leather is the star here. The leather is a strong, smoky leather that is most similar - in leather terms - to Creed's Royal English Leather. It's a bit spicier and smokier, a little more full, then REL. Amber is not prominent - and it's certainly not the least bit sweet, but it's clearly present as a balance to the smokiness of the leather. The entire composition is the slightest bit musky. I don't detect many of the notes listed above - in fact very few of them. If they are present, they exist only to fill out the leather accord and perhaps enhance the fragrance's muskiness. Although not a parfum, No.3 lasts well over 8 hours and only requires light application to give off some real sillage.

A few last notes; the bottle and presentation is great. The Prada exclusives come in a small, rectangular cut glass bottle. The extent of the adornment is a white sticker on the front (a la Helmut Lang) and a white sticker on the side (a la Infusion d'Iris/Homme) with 'No.3 Cuir Ambre' is a small typewriter style font. The small black screw cap (no sprayer) is a little incongruous and cheap compared to the rest of the bottle. At $7+ per ml, you've really got to want this. Although it's not the best leather I own (PG Cuir d'Iris), I'd say No.3 is a must-try for serious leather fans.

05th November, 2008
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Fleur Oriental by Miller Harris

An interesting, lightly spicy floral oriental. There's definitely a powdery edge to this, but it makes for a nice balance with the spice notes, which dominate over the carnation. The vanilla is never too sweet, and I'd swear there's a touch of tobacco in here. In some ways this is very de-tuned version of Feuilled de Tabac - at least in spirit. If you can get past the powderiness, there's no reason a guy can't wear this. The spiciness of the floral actually reminds me of the opening of vintage Equipage.
05th November, 2008
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Jicky Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

I fell in love with Jicky on first spray... the combination of lavender and vanilla, brightened with citrus is just irresistible. Much ado is made of the civet component - I can't say I care - whatever gives Jicky its weird, fun, sparkly personality is fine with me.

I own a bottle of the EdT, and my only complaint is that it's gone in about 2 hours. I have samples of both the EdP and PdT... I believe the PdT is the longest lasting of the three, and I may just invest in one of these concentrations for the sole purpose of mixing with the EdT. Even still, the PdT lasts about 4 hours.

If you haven't tried Jicky, seek it out. There's obviously a reason it's still selling well 120 years after being introduced.
05th November, 2008
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Mambo for Men by Liz Claiborne

This is the perfect fragrance for those guys who drive limos, then stand around in the hall of your employer's workplace sleeping or being cranky. Also, Mambo is for you If you're an short, older gentlemen who likes to visit strip clubs and who thinks that you receive attention from the girls because of your sparkly personality instead of your influential boss. Make sure you think you're funny before slapping on enough to create a 7-foot bubble of Mambo around you, and don't forget to stock at least 10 boxes in your fridge so you can douse yourself in this juice every day for the remaining few years of your life.

Thumbs up for Ronnie - thumbs down for everyone else (thus a neutral rating)
03rd November, 2008
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Cristalle Eau de Toilette by Chanel

The initial burst is confusing.... it's not clear what will emerge from the aldehydes. It's a mish-mash of floral, green, and citrus notes. What quickly emerges is a fruity/floral chypre heart that is extremely similar to Diorella. Diorella is a favorite of mine and I'm thus pretty familiar with its intricacies. I tested Cristalle against Diorella, arm to arm, and say that Cristalle is about 80% of Diorella, but with the volume turned down by about half... and by volume I mean sillage, longevity, and just the general robustness of the fruit an floral notes themselves. Diorella was a successful release in 1972. Cristalle was released in '74... can this be coincidence?

Ignoring the Diorella comparison, Cristalle by itself is a solid classic feminine chypre, with a particular emphasis on the lemon notes initially and the floral (hyacinth? really?) later on. Longevity is not great on me - 2-3 hours, and by the time the base merges there's not much to smell.... the heart just fades out.

In and of itself, Cristalle EdT is very nice (avoid the EdP, which is heavy and uncomfortable). In relation to Diorella, I'd choose Diorella.
03rd November, 2008
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Vétyver by Roger & Gallet

If you're looking for a citrus/vetiver look no further. R&G Vetyver isn't a complicated fragrances, and there's not much to add that hasn't been said in the reviews below. I will add only that this is a very vibrant, clean vetiver fragrance that sits lightly on the skin. Once the citrus notes fade, a light but earthy vetiver note/accord remains. By the time a light amberish base emerges what's left is a mild skin scent. As an EdC it only lasts a couple hours, but with a large, inexpensive bottle you can reapply as needed. I like vetiver but find heavy vetivers to be unpleasant in the heat, so when I came across this in a niche shop I bought it on first spray.
30th October, 2008
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A*Men / Angel Men by Thierry Mugler

My Review Title - A*Men is for Gourmand and Patchouli fans only! Stop Complaining otherwise!

With 190 reviews coming before me, I don't feel compelled to rehash the notes, etc. However I'll address the obvious love/hate nature of A*Men. Not many people are neutral on this. Obviously wearing A*Men requires that you like both strong gourmand and strong patchouli fragrances, as A*Men manages to meld the two genres together. You have a very strong patchouli - with all of its aromatic fullness - masked slightly by a chocolate/caramel/coffee/vanilla accord. However, even if you're inclined to like these types of accords, you CAN NOT overapply.

Application must be via a diffuse spray, and if you do want to lay it on, let a single layer dry then add another. If you put on a thick heavy layer something in the way AMen dries makes it powerfully sticky sweet. I only required about 1/2 of a 1.2ml factory sample sprayer to enjoy AMen all day. If I purchase this, it will be a 30ml bottle, because it would last me forever.

Applied correctly, I get varying notes of patchouli, lavender, the 'choco-cara-vanille' accord, and even some light touches of citrus and musk, that come and go, melding into one another. I can smell myself easily without someone else in the elevator smelling me, which is a perfect balance for me. In fact, AMen gives me of those 'aromatic auras' that few fragrances create and that I find very enjoyable.

In summary, for the brief time that my review is on the top of the page, let me me implore everyone who doesn't like both gourmand and patchouli fragrances to stay away from AMen. You will not like it, and then just get on BN and write a review whining that 'the perfumer was crazy - this stuff is terrible...waaaaaa!'. Please.
30th October, 2008
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Équipage by Hermès

It's taken me a few wears over 3 months of ownership to 'get' Equipage, and I can now put it on my absolute favored list. Overall, Equipage is just plain classy. It's masculine without reaching into overbearing as Polo can be, and its understated without being simple. The Equipage experience conjures images of 'proper' gentlemen dressed in a tweed suit pursuing some dandy pursuit such as fox-hunting or perhaps driving an old MG in the countryside.

The opening consists of a bergamot and pine/green accord that, to my nose, creates the impression of containing lavender in its combination of sharpness offset with sweetness. I'm not as good as my peers at identifying specific floral notes, but clearly carnation and lily of the valley play a role in rounding out the fragrance and giving it depth. As the sweetness of the opening fades the coniferous heart emerges, presenting the an incredibly balanced woody/green accord, rounded out by light florals. The drydown is quite musky creating a long lasting, powdery wood. I don't quite catch distinct vetiver or patchouli, but their influence in creating the base are obvious. Just as lavender isn't a listed note in the opening, but the other notes hint at it, leather isn't a listed basenote, but the combination of musk, woods, and vetiver create a comfy-worn leather effect.

On my skin the movement from opening to base is fairly rapid - about an hour - but overall the fragrance lasts on my skin 5-6 hours. Given the fact that you can pick up a 100ml Equipage for about $40, this may be one of the best quality-for-you-dollar fragrances available today.

My review is based on an early-80s vintage bottle of Equipage. I've never smelled modern Equipage, but the Guide says it hasn't changed much. I'm anxious to try modern Equipage to determine whether I can replace my almost-empty vintage bottle with a new bottle or whether I need to make the investment in an vintage bottle again.
28th October, 2008
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Nicolaï pour Homme by Nicolaï

Darn.... do you ever want to just cop out and say 'this just smells GOOD'? Well that's how I feel about Nicolai Pour Homme. As already mentioned, lavender is at the heart of this fragrance and is present from application through drydown. When fist applied, the lavender is paired with mint and piney green notes (spruce?). The sharpness of the green notes fades, and for a long time the heart presents itself as lavender with the 'bite' removed by a mix of mint and tobacco. As the base emerges, amber becomes more prominent, the mint drops out, and the composition sweetens slightly. The transitions are seamless as the notes fade in and out. Throughout its life, NPH is constantly presenting a different face... but the changes are always discrete and happen slowly.

There is nothing at all jarring or obtrusive about this fragrance, it just makes you smell good without being overly loud or trying to break ground with some new accord. I could see this as being the fragrance to wear in situations when you're not sure if wearing a fragrance is appropriate. NPH is masculine but could be pulled off by a woman. It stays somewhat close to the skin, but I only gave it a 2-spray application. You'd have to appreciate lavender to some extent to enjoy this, but it's not a sharp, biting lavender at all.

Really, really nice fragrance.
23rd October, 2008
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Bois d'Arménie by Guerlain

Rarely do you see so many reviews all heap what is essentially the same praise on a fragrance: Shockingly Beautiful. Bois d'Armenie is at once delicate and rich, woody and sweet, - this is a perfectly balanced fragrance. Light woody notes are weaved together with incense and pepper via benzoin and musk (and to my nose a light vanilla, though it's not listed). As it develops the woody notes reside and patchouli becomes more prominent - at which pepper notes fade out. The subtle interaction between the notes coming and going is something to behold. It also becomes slightly sweeter over time, at times coming close to feeling like a gourmand, but it never quite does - at least not nearly as much as it's sister scent, Iris Ganache.

Although I don't have a tremendous amount of experience with Guerlain, this typifies the best of the house. BdA is made to be worn and not just smelled on a strip. I would be a happy man if I could just have this aroma wafting around me always. The notes are in perfect harmony, and it is gorgeous without being ostentatious. It's true this won't project far, it's more of a skin scent, but it doesn't matter one bit because I want my skin to smell like this! Other reviews claim this is marketed as a male scent, although I've seen it on an upscale online retailer as a feminine scent. I'd say it's 100% unisex.

If you can't already tell - I'm smitten. $200 be damned - this is my next bottle.
22nd October, 2008
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Balkis by Nicolaï

Very pretty rose/berry, but Balkis is shockingly sweet with nothing else to balance out the sweetness. There's not much by way of shift to any spice or anything else in the drydown. The fruitiness just slowly fades out over 2-3 hours. A better alternative to most of the girly-garbage being released, but still incredibly sweet for almost anyone over age 21.
22nd October, 2008
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Acqua di Sicilia by Santa Maria Novella

An intensely bright citrus cologne. The citrus phase lasts longer than most traditional eaux de colognes - about an hour. From there it turns to a citrus/woody mix, and then eventually lightly woody. It's the citrus that is the star here... it was so sour it made me sweat. As with all SMN products, the quality of materials is amazing. There's not too much else to report on a fragrance in this category - it's a great cologne!
21st October, 2008
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Hermèssence Poivre Samarcande by Hermès

I've literally had this for months - received as part of the Hermessence travel set - and I literally just 'got it'. This is my fault - until today I've never done anything but spray on my wrist, and although I appreciated the incredibly realistic black pepper note, I couldn't figure out how such a minimalist fragrance could command such exclusivity and cost. The accord is simple - black pepper with a touch of woods. There's little development and no base to speak of.

So this evening I actually gave myself a few sprays on the neck/shoulders and it all made sense. When worn, PS creates an aura of warm spice around the person wearing it. I heard someone once write that they found PS invigorating, and I see what they mean... on me it has an almost aromatherapy type effect, the pepper being stimulating but never overbearing. I find myself looking forward to the next breath as I breathe it in. The length is average, about 5 hours. At first there was some sillage, but after about 30 minutes it is enjoyed only by the wearer (spraying on clothes lasts longer), but the 'aura' I describes lasts quite a while. This would work perfectly for an office or other situation sillage may be inappropriate.

I'm not sure I would spend the $210 necessary to buy a full bottle, but I will be using my travel size bottle and would consider replacing it. I definitely recommend trying PS, especially to those who either like pepper accords or who appreciate Ellena's minimalist composition style. This is one the the school's best examples.
20th October, 2008
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Nuits de NoHo by Bond No. 9

As with many Bond No.9 fragrances, Nuits de Noho is a rich composition that borders on gourmand without quite going all the way. It has a lot of body without being overly heavy, and it is certainly not perfumey at all. The other reviews that allude to a likeness with Angel are quite incorrect, unless you think every fragrance with gourmand notes must be like Angel. Angel is a dense, syrupy sweet berry/chocolate gourmand. Nuits de Noho's density is not all gourmand, it certainly isn't as sweet, and is more of a fruity floral. There's nothing 'thin' about NdN in the slightest.

As I've worked my way through nearly every Bond No. 9, I can't help but notice the close similarities between many fragrances in the line. Hearts and bases, notes and accords, are shared across many offerings. Nuits de Noho's gourmand-ish edge is replicated somewhat in the new Andy Warhol Lexington Ave. What sets NdN apart, and what made me purchase a bottle, is the pineapple-based top note that persists well into the base. The fruity top notes are not crisp - they're rounded with jasmine and musk, and they're not girly sweet. They put a fruity face on the floral heart. It's not pure pineapple, but the pineapple is noticeable. It's a much better use of pineapple then in L'Artisan's Annanas Fizz, which sounds like it would great but came off in reality to me as sour and muddled. The NdN fruit notes persist throughout the composition, which becomes more floral, and then musky as it develops.

I put on a healthy application of NdN and it projected very well - in fact too well (I put on a lot). It lasted about 8 hours, which may be in part because of how much I applied. Bond's don't last too well on my skin, and with a normal application it may not have lasted quite that long. Regardless, this is one of my favorite Bonds. Although classified as feminine it is 100% unisex (if you don't mind fruitish top notes) and I recommend it highly.

20th October, 2008
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Centaure Cuir Ambre by Pierre Cardin

Simple but fun fragrance... a lot more 'ambre' than 'cuir' unfortunately. Starts out with a distinct leathery note backed up with the sweetness of amber. Within about 30 minutes the leather note is gone and all that's left is a nice amber. Of course, there is no shortage of amber fragrances and there's nothing that makes this fragrance stands out besides its obscurity and neat stopper cap.

I found a bottle on eBay and both love leather fragrances and obscure items, so I bought one. I believe there are sites that sell samples of this.... I wouldn't spend much on seeking this out, but if you come across it, it's not terrible.
20th October, 2008
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Polo Modern Reserve by Ralph Lauren

The notes (per Sephora):

Top: Cardamom C02, Fresh-cut Basil, Pimento Berry.
Mid: Vetyver-leather, liquid Jasmine, Precious Myrrh Incense.
Base: Humidor Wood, Patchouli, Sueded Leather.

At first I didn't think Modern Reserve (MR) really shared that much with the original. I then tested them against each other, one on each arm, and revised that initial impression. They definitely share notes, and more importantly MR definitely invokes the style of the original.

MR stars of with a real cardamom blast, backed up with 'coolness' that it very difficult to articulate... perhaps it's the basil, but it's like a sharp piney-ness that makes the cardamom feel sharp. The fragrance settles into the heart quickly, with the top notes and mid-notes melding for a while. The heart is very 'green'... very piney and bordering on almost being the slightest bit minty. (By this point the original has warmed up, and is very leathery with a tobacco edge). As with the original, MR's notes are very well blended and no distinct note is very apparent. I can't distinguish vetiver or myrrh by themselves, but it makes sense that these notes together create the green heart of the fragrance. The drydown is fairly uneventful... a light leathery/woody/piney base that persists for a few hours. Unlike the original, which can easily be overdone with just a few sprays, MR doesn't kill the entire room with a few sprays. It's got good longevity and sillage without being overly potent.

Overall MR is a great fragrance - especially for being a modern designer offering. If Polo itself wasn't so green and bold, there's no way RL would have released something so radically different than everything else designers have released this year. You don't have to like Polo to like MR - it is its own fragrance for sure.

18th October, 2008
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Vanille 44 by Le Labo

I admit it... I'm a sucker for vanilla fragrances. The current reigning king is Guerlain's Spirituesse Double Vanille. I think most vanilla fans would concur. I had some pretty high expectations for such an exclusive vanilla. The verdict? It's not your ordinary vanilla, but it's not $500-plus-cost-of-exporting-from-Paris vanilla.

The best way I can describe the top notes are, well it's like smelling watery vanilla. It's as if high quality vanilla was somehow diluted, as opposed to just a weak vanilla. The opening reminds me somewhat of the aldehydic dry-down of Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere, with it's floral/vanilla base under the aldehydes.

The heart features more prominent and spicy vanilla. No longer watery, this must be the 'vanilla pod' smell described by other reviewers. The primary vanilla note is lightly spicy and somewhat smoky. It's at this point that the vanilla is most like SDV (though not as strong or boozy). The notes supporting and underlying the vanilla are well blended and unobtrusive - I believe it's a light citrus/floral mix.

The base provides a prominent high quality vanilla that is not too sweet, a little thick, and a little spicy. Again, it's close to SDV but the overall fragrance doesn't project nearly as much.

A great vanilla, not doubt. If it were anywhere near available, and SDV didn't exist, I'd probably buy it. If you have SDV you don't need this, but it's a thumbs up nonetheless.
16th October, 2008
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Patchouli 24 by Le Labo

As with the other Le Labos, its named noted, patchouli, doesn't play a starring role in this fragrance. At first the fragrance is shockingly smoky, resinous, and fairly discordant. And did I mention sillage? There's lots of that also. Another reviewer drew the apt analogy with a fireplace... I agree. This smells not just like a fireplace, but the way a house smells when a chimney is clogged and too much smoke backs up into the house instead of going up the chimney (I had a house with a fireplace like this). You have to like incense/smoke to get through this phase.

The drydown is beyond magic... vanilla emerges and balances out the richest, resinous leather I've ever experienced. I don't sense the sickly sweetness others report at all. In fact, vanilla is barely noticeable as a lone note, but rather a lightly detectable note that keep the entire composition from going too far.

I'll be buying at least a decant of this.... definitely a cold weather only fragrance, but I can't wait to have Patchouli 24 seeping up from underneath my parka as I walk through sub-zero temperatures.
16th October, 2008
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Elite by Floris

A strong, 80s type of rough masculine. Powdery and forceful, the citrus isn't crisp or fresh by any means, and the heart is all jumbled together. To me it just comes of as a rush of strong, discordant herbal and floral notes.

This is the type of fragrance I picture being worn by a smarmy guy dressed in a shiny suit who, dipped in cologne, jumps into his Bentley to drive off to the country club. Perhaps it's the Floris Britishness shining through, but I just can't find anything to enjoy about this one, and I can usually find something nice to say about almost any fragrance. The benchmark for male fragrances in the formal category is, IMHO, Tiffany for Men, and this isn't even close. Floris' other masculines like JF and No.89 are much more wearable and enjoyable.
16th October, 2008
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Patchouli by Mazzolari

This is the first Mazzolari I've ever tried, so I didn't know what to expect. Being tipped off that a little goes a long way, I went with a small application on my neck and just a dot on my arm so I could analyze. A strong patchouli note isn't immediately evident, but clearly it is part of the depth and structure of the fragrance. The accords mix and meld from amber to incense and woods, with sweet and resinous notes in balance. About 2 hours after application a very clean patchouli note became clear, but amber balances the patchouli to keep it from becoming piercing or overbearing as it does in Montale's Patchouli Leaves.

I've been on big patchouli kick lately, and for me this ranks up there with Borneo 1834 - which is near the top but not nearly as nice as Chanel Coromandel, which is way beyond its nearest competitor.
15th October, 2008
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Ilang Ivohibe 15 by Parfumerie Generale

A beautiful white floral with twinges of citrus and vanilla throughout the life of the fragrance (with the vanilla becoming more prominent in the base). It doesn't project far as it is more of a skin scent, but it lasts forever. Personally I don't wear floral-centric fragrances, but if I were to wear one this would be it.

Very high recommendation.
15th October, 2008
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parfums*PARFUMS Series 6 Synthetic: Garage by Comme des Garçons

Funny how everyone has their own memory and version of what a garage smells like. This immediately took me back the dusty, musky smell of my parents' garage when it rained. Rubber, brake pads and smells emitted from steam off the hood as the car rattled after being shut down.

No one else has mentioned - and maybe it's just me - but about 2 hours after application the heaviness of the synthetic garage smell was gone and what was left was a lightly citrus/floral, almost 'fresh' type of accord with the slightest hint of what came before it. In fact I initially forgot that it was Garage on my hand and for the life of me couldn't remember what I'd sprayed on my hand.

Fun for novelty purposes, but as Foetidus points out, even people who smell like garages may not want to smell like garages. The base accord isn't so unique as to make it worth a couple hours of smelling like a garage. The entire fragrance is fascinating, and I love that CdG has the balls to actually retail theoretical exercises, so thumbs up.

Notes (luckyscent) :Laurel aldehyde, traces of kerosene, leather notes, plastic floral notes, vetiver acetate, Chinese cedarwood
14th October, 2008
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Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris

Fantastic! The strong opening of clove and incense, balanced with a sweet resinous note, grabs you right from the start. This opening lingers for about 30-45 minutes until it dries down to a tobacco and wood mix that lingers for a long time. There are some fragrances that you just like at first sniff, and this one of those for me. It will project strongly during it's first phase, but from then on it will stay moderately close to the skin. Definitely full bottle worthy!
14th October, 2008
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Tiffany for Men Sport by Tiffany

Tiffany for Men Sport was far ahead of its time. As a fan of Tiffany for Men (TFM), I'd been wanting to sample this for a while. Foetidus' review of the fragrance itself is dead on...there's not much to add in that aspect. I sense a little bit of mint and woods behind the juniper berry, but it's mostly juniper. It's a nice, clean scent that clearly employs high-quality materials.

What strikes me is that this 'clean' accord predicted where masculine designer perfumery would be 10 years later. If you took Tiffany Sport, put in in a *insert designer here* bottle and released it now (fall 08) no one would blink an eye. It is eerily reminiscent of the clean vibe delivered by Guerlain Homme, Gucci by Gucci, Armani Diamond, etc. On the skin, Tiffany Sport isn't quite as light as its 08 children - probably because the materials are better and oil concentration higher - and it lasts a little longer.

If you're buying a modern male fragrance and live near a Tiffanys, check this out.
14th October, 2008
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Aomassaï 10 by Parfumerie Generale

Many of PG's line have gourmand notes, so it's not surprising that a full gourmand would be so rich and full. Caramel and licorice are the primary notes, but as with Yohji Homme, there is a distinct roasted quality to the entire fragrance that keeps it from becoming sweet and cloying. Take Yojhi Homme, roast it for another couple hours to take out the sweetness, and you'd be close to this.

There are definitely some background notes of wood and incense that give body and depth to the Aomassai, but in a discrete way that never interferes with the gourmand-ness of the entire fragrance. The incense becomes somewhat more noticeable in the base, at which point the composition in general becomes slightly musky. Serge Lutens' Un Bois Vanille is a similar fragrance in that it recreates an aromatic atmosphere (of say, a coffee shop or a bakery), but for some reason Aomassai is less sweet and more wearable. Perhaps this is because Aomassai does not rely on vanilla or coffee notes, as most gourmands do.

I'm perplexed at the reviewer that experienced poor longevity. I literally dabbed the back of my hand with the sample vial - not even one spray - and I could smell it for hours and hours. Two sprays would be more than enough for a morning-til-bed application for me.

If you like the PG line you have to try to this - but avoid at all costs if you don't like gourmands.

Published notes: caramel, toasted hazelnuts, licorice, bitter orange, spices, wenge wood, vetiver, balsam wood, incense, dried grasses, resins (per Luckyscent.com)
13th October, 2008
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Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès

It took owning this for nearly four months before I could sufficiently 'get' this enough to write a review. Perhaps I needed to understand Ellena's work better, and perhaps I needed to experience more vetivers in general to put Vetiver Tonka in context. Whatever it is, I'm now able to describe Vetiver Tonka in a meaningful way.

As with the other Hermessences, this is an Ellena minimalist-type of composition. A few notes, melded together, without filler or noise in the background to distract from the primary accord. IMO, Vetiver Tonka works better in this respect - as a composition - than does Poivre Samarcade or Paprika Brasil, which are so simple that they come off as somewhat boring.

I disagree that this is a gourmand, at least not in the traditional sense of the 'gourmand' genre. It doesn't really smell like food, but rather it's sweetened enough by tonka bean (which is a lot like vanilla) to give it an edible-fragrance quality, but it doesn't smell like any identifiable food that I'm aware of. There's certainly no chocolate, coffee, licorice, or other traditional gourmand notes. It smells more like an imaginary food than an actual food item.

So what do you get? Vetiver by itself is a very full bodied, complex smell that can be herbal and pungent. In Vetiver-Tonka, vetiver provides the depth and 'base' of the accord while tonka completely takes all of the edge and pungency of vetiver away, hence why the the vetiver itself is not immediately noticeable. Vetiver is in there - it's just that it's traditional face is masked. Conversely, the one-dimensional sweetness of tonka all of a sudden has complexity and body to it. It's taken me countless wears to nail this down. It's an ingenious use of both vetiver and tonka - two notes found in countless fragrances but never juxtaposed directly with each other. If you're a vetiver fan and like your vetiver strong, such as in Malle;s Vetiver Extraordinaire, you will be disappointed.

This is my favorite of the Hermessence line (though I haven't tried Brin de Reglisse). Although I own travel bottles this and the rest of the line, this is the only one I would buy a full bottle of when I run out. As with the other Hermessence, and Ellena, creations, projection and longevity are average at best, but I find it acceptable for such a unique fragrance.
13th October, 2008
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Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir by Christian Dior

I've been anticipating today - my first full wear of ESFC - for a long time. First it was on my wishlist for about 8 months, and then I finally found a bottle thanks to a kind BN member, then I had to wait about a month while hurricanes and evacuations delayed my receipt. Why all the fuss for something I've never smelled? Well, I love Eau Sauvage, I love leather notes, and I have a weakness for obscure Dior releases.

Was it worth the wait? Well, yes. Am I blown away? Well, no. At first I was surprised that the topnotes were pure Eau Sauvage, with little if any variation. I was bummed. After about a half hour I noticed the emergence of a slightly spicy, ambery leather accord that blended in with the standard ES drydown to perfection. As the name says (which is translated on the bottle as 'leather freshness'), this is a fresh leather. 90% Eau Sauvage, 10% Leather. I strongly recommend a massive overapplication to one's neck, arms, chest, etc. to experience the full effect.

My only complaint with the original has been longevity. No matter how much you put on it lasts about 2 hours from beginning to end. This problem seems addressed in the FC version, with the longevity being much better and the base persisting for about 5-6 hours.

If you're a fan of the various elements that went into this creation like I am, by all means seek out a bottle. If you're just a leather fan and think this will be a leather rich, lemony fragrance, somewhere along the lines of HL Cuiron, you will be disappointed.
11th October, 2008
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United States

Chypré Vanillé by Montale

A very strong chypre accord twinged with the least-sweet, driest vanilla ever. At first the fragrance is very strong, and fairly discordant. The powderyness of the chypre accord is evident from the very beginning, and the volume is turned up high. Vanilla isn't blended in, but seems to take place as a note next to the chypre. The heart is the most pleasant part of the fragrance, with a prominent dry vanilla becoming more dominant, while the 'chypreness' is in the background. The drydown and base is long-lived, as with most Montales, and is classic chyrpe oakmoss. At this stage vanilla is not prominent, and perhaps only brightens the base a little. I detected other spice notes in the background as well.

For some reason and I am very drawn to this fragrance, and it's take on the chypre genre. I've already ordered a decant and depending on how it wears a few times will seriously consider a bottle.
11th October, 2008
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United States

Patchouli Patch by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Definitely a blast of patchouli, but far drier and more wearable then, say, Montale's Patchouli Patch, which is very strong. While patchouli takes center-stage, it is softened with enough vanilla and perhaps a touch of fruit underneath to make this version very different than the hippie-oil associated with patchouli. Plus, if you're not sniffing on skin, but wearing it, the patchouli note blends quite well with other notes and isn't overwhelming at all. As with any patchouli based fragrance, you must like this note to even bother trying patchouili, but within this genre it is great.
11th October, 2008
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United States

Lavanda Ambrata / Amber Lavender by Santa Maria Novella

Not to be mistaken with the low-quality fragrance of the same name by Jo Malone, this is what Amber/Lavender should be (and what I had hoped from the JM version). The Jo Malone version feature a briefly lived lavender note that is piercing, and dies off quickly leaving an amber base that lasts for about an hour.

SM Novella figured out how to actually combine amber and lavender such that both notes persist throughout the entire life of the fragrance. One experiences both the sharpness of lavender and sweetness of amber together. As with other SMN fragrances, this is a simple accord of high quality, and the name is what you get. This accord lasts through the base, and at times amber is more prominent, and at times lavender, but there is never a point at which you can't detect both.

From what I've learned about SMN, it is a very old, exclusive house that only recently began exporting. The high price reflects the quality of the materials used, and the bottles themselves are from a niche italian glass manufacturer that can be reused.
11th October, 2008