Perfume Reviews

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Total Reviews: 363
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Monocle Scent One: Hinoki by Comme des Garçons

By far the most realistic, rich and all-enveloping wood fragrance. It is incredibly complicated - more so than I can describe - and certainly worthy of description beyond just smelling like wood. Hinoki does not hint at wood, or imply wood, and nor is it merely 'woody'. It IS wood. When I first smelled this I was instantly transported back to my friend's basement wood shop, with its variety of different woods, shavings, stains, glues, etc. I instantly remembered all the times we spent in that shop and how much fun we had. If you have some connection to these smells, as I do, perhaps this fragrance means more to you then for those that do not. Perhaps those who hike, camp, or otherwise spend time in the woods will find more to love about Hinoki.

Of course with CdG we again run into the issue of wearability.... sure, it's amazing that the smell of a wood shop can be recreated, but does a person really want to go around smelling like one? Well, in this case that wearability issue isn't as severe as you'd think. The intensity of the wood is only a problem when smelled from a few inches away. When applied (and yes, the sillage is strong) the scent that comes off from farther away is that of a masculine, pleasant woody smell. Within an hour or so the intensity, and realism, of the fragrance dies down and a very warm, fuzzy, enjoyable fragrance is what's left. This may be from the completion of the 'camphor' and 'turpentine' notes, but I'm not sure.

When compared to other 'wood' fragrances like Gucci Rush or Tumulte, Hinoki makes them look hopelessly synthetic and unpleasant.

I'm not usually a fan of wood-only fragrances, but Hinoki was bottle worthy and a prize on my shelf.
08th October, 2008
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Aldehyde 44 by Le Labo

I was very excited to receive my decant of this obscure item (as someone mentioned, it is only available at the Dallas, TX Barney's). I'm not sure why Le Labo is keeping this so under wraps, but I can report it's good but perhaps not worthy of such exclusivity.

The opening is very reminiscent of the aldehyde laden opening of Chanel No.22. However, whereas No.22's aldehydic strength persists throughout most of the life on the fragrance, Le Labo's fades fairly rapidly. At first some florals and a touch of citrus lay under the aldehydes, and within the first 30 minutes or so the aldehydes fade, leaving a musky, light citrus/fresh/floral. Although pleasant, nothing distinguishes this Le Labo.

I'm not sure what Barney's Dallas charges for this, but based on the decant price it's somewhere around what they charge for Vanille 44 which is only available at the Paris boutique and somewhere around $500/100ml (per TPC's website). If you're looking for an aldehyde-rich floral I think Chanel No.22 is a much better choice, and at $200/190ml it's a significant savings over Le Labo.
07th October, 2008
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Rochas Man by Rochas

Below are 70+ reviews of Rochas Man, so I can't add much new in terms of describing the coffee/lavender/vanilla gourmand accord. To my nose it comes off almost like cookie dough at first, although in the heart the lavender is somewhat more prominent and eventually coffee and vanilla. The longevity is very good, though it stays close to the skin. Of course this isn't a bad thing with gourmands.

What I like about RM is that it's a straightforward gourmand that isn't too sweet. Bond No. 9's New Haarlem is much richer, with more food smells, as is Yohji Homme. A*Men and A*Men Pure Coffee are more bitter and stronger. CSP's Vanille Mokha is just coffee. Rochas Man fits in perfectly as a very wearable gourmand that isn't always recognizable as a gourmand to those around you. My fiancee at first did not recognize it as food smelling, but instead noticed the smooth lavender.

This is very inexpensive and widely available. An excellent 'reference' gourmand for fans of the genre.
06th October, 2008
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Patchouli Leaves by Montale

Holy Smokes! This patchouli is no joke. This is not a classy, refined patchouli like Chanel's Coromandel. This is not a dry, chocolaty patchouli like Borneo 1834. This is a sting-your-nose, transport-you-to-the-Grateful Dead-lot-circa-1989 kind of patchouli. That it invokes flashbacks of Jerry kicking into I Know You Rider out of a smokin' China Cat is not to say the quality is $10-per-vial of oil cheap, but rather it is so strong and it is of such high quality that it is like smelling everyone in the lot wearing patchouli simultaneously. It is that smell that reminded you that you were at the show (minus the smells of sweat and pot smoke).

Patchouli Leaves starts out as a sillage monster. I was casually testing a few fragrances one evening when I applied a single mini-spray of PL to the back of my hand. This is a sillage monster. Testing anything else instantly became meaningless as all I could smell was patchouli, and this is without raising my hand to my nose. This patchouli is very earthy and very rich. The juice itself is dark and seemingly thick. The only patchouli fragrances I've tried that come close are Bois 1820's 'Real Patchouli' and S.M. Novella's single note Patchouli.

After about an hour the ferocity subsides considerably, leaving an amber/vanilla/patchouli that is indeed more akin to Coromandel, albeit more earthy. Sillage is still significant, and the longevity is on par with the other Montales - 8-10 hours. I first applied the spray to my hand around 10pm and I could still clearly smell patchouli and amber at 8am when I woke up.

If you want an end-all-be-all patchouli look no further. Just be careful applying or else you may find a bunch of heads following you around asking for tickets to the next Hampton show.
05th October, 2008
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parfums*PARFUMS Luxe: Patchouli by Comme des Garçons

I've become a big fan of patchouli fragrances lately and was interested in what a $285/45ml CdG patchouli would be like. As Vibert notes, the opening is rich in woods and resins, and I identify pepper as well. The resinous notes are at once rich and a little sickly-sweet. Of course a dry patchouli note is ever-present in the background. I would have hoped for an incredibly rich patchouli to be front-and-center, but that is not the case. The sweetness of the resin does fade, and what's left is a smooth, peppery patchouli balanced with woody notes. For your money you get quality - 2 sprays lasted about 10 hours on my skin.

If you're looking for a 'luxury patchouli' I'd recommend Chanel Coromandel ($200/200ml), or, if you can get it, Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 ($175/75ml). If you're looking for a strong, resinous fragrance that includes patchouli, and money is no object, this might be for you.

Thumbs up because this is a quality fragrance, but if I were to factor in cost it might point sideways.
02nd October, 2008
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Eau d'Hermès by Hermès

A truly fascinating and unique fragrance, Eau d'Hermes is a study in contrasts and balance. More than any other fragrance I've experienced, EdH smells very differently depending on how much you apply and whether you're wearing it or just sampling it. Someone on the BN message board made the analogy between EdH and scotch whiskey - they are both acquired tastes that are beautiful to the acclimatized but very unpleasant to the casual user. This is incredibly apt. The most important thing you can avoid with EdH is to judge it based on a spray to a piece of paper. The second most important thing to avoid is to judge based solely on an arm or wrist spray (the mistake I initially made).

I first experienced EdH by spraying on my arm and breathing in deeply. The cumin was overpowering, and all I could smell was, as another reviewer put it, "sex". It's dirty and animalistic, with cumin and civet predominating. I did not give up on EdH because I could tell that something was going on under the cumin, something very beautiful. I kept waiting for the cumin to subside and meld into the background notes, but it persisted well past the heart and into the basenotes, loosening its grip as the primary accord at the very end to reveal a soft, woody leathery base. "Nice base" I thought, but could I wait 4-5 hours to smell like that? Also, the strength of the cumin, smelled up close, bordered on being sour enough to smell like urine at times, and I wondered if I'd be walking around reeking of either Kouros or the men's room at Grand Central Station.

I took the plunge and gave it a body-wear. What a difference! When sprayed over a wide skin area and not smelled up close (in other words, diffuse sprays not inhaled from 1 inch away as smelling on the wrist), EdH is an entirely different animal. The citrus becomes much more evident and vibrant, and it is balanced perfectly by the cumin, which no longer reeks like an indian restaurant but rather cinnamon and clove. EdH projects class and a slight formalness, but with a touch of quirkiness, like driving an old Jaguar Vanden Plas. The woody/leathery drydown is gorgeous and lasts forever. You won't smell like anyone else wearing this, that's for sure.

Final thoughts, I can't really picture a woman pulling this off unless it's for the express purpose of getting naked.
02nd October, 2008
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Sweet Oriental Dream by Montale

I can't add to the great reviews of the notes in the reviews below me. To me, Sweet Oriental Dream is one of the most unique vanilla/gourmands I've experienced. What makes it unique is the balance between sweet notes and nut/floral notes. There's something going underneath the vanilla that keeps me smelling my wrist constantly. After the opening this isn't sweet at all, and even though it's slightly on the feminine side of unisex, I wouldn't think twice about wearing it.
01st October, 2008
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1869 by Acca Kappa

I came across this in a small niche fragrance shop in Austin, TX and was pleasantly surprised. 1869 is a light, peppery fragrance with melon undertones. It stays close to the skin and lasts longer than your average EdC but doesn't project at all. It's perfect for the office or any other time you want to smell nice without alerting the rest of the world. It's a somewhat unusual accord, and the only thing I've experienced vaguely similar is the lime/pepper accord created by the massive dose of the 'Iso-Super E' in Escentric 01 (by Escentric Molecules). 1869 is much less sharp and tangy than E-01 and not nearly as flagrantly synthetic.

29th September, 2008
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Vanille Mokha / Vanille Café by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

I'm glad this has been reissued! You'd think that coffee fragrances can't vary much, but Vanille Mokha shares little in common with my other coffee fragrances, A*Men Pure Coffee and Bond No.9 New Haarlem. VM starts off with a straight-up bitter, rich coffee note. This note softens over time, going from an espresso aroma to that of dark roast coffee, to light coffee and eventually to a latte with perhaps one pump of vanilla. Never overly sweet, VM is the first coffee fragrance I've come across that is pretty much just coffee.

If you like gourmands you should definitely grab a bottle while this reissue is available.
29th September, 2008
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Musc Maori 04 by Parfumerie Generale

Fantastic for those who like gourmands but are looking for something different than another Pure Coffee, Yohji Homme, or New Haarlem. Musc Maori starts of with a rich cocoa note that is obnoxiously strong. This quickly settles down, and as it does a powdery musk becomes prominent. For a while this is the heart of the scent.. musky cocoa. However as the base develops the musk becomes spicier and what finally reveals itself is a lightly spicy, musky skin scent with hints of cocoa.

If you don't like gourmands, you won't like this, but it does offer much more than your average gourmand. As it is a PG, it lasts forever on my skin. Another winner from Parfumerie Generale.
27th September, 2008
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Pasha Fraîcheur Menthe by Cartier

If you know you don't like mint, there's really no reason to try a fragrance with 'fresh mint' in the title... unless you sample fragrances for the express purposes of writing bad reviews and having a high 'review count'. This seems beyond absurd to me but apparently some people do this.

The topnotes of a light, whispy mint definitely freshen this up a lot. Cuts the thickness of the original, and IMO makes it more wearable. I like this more than the original but don't like either enough to buy. If you like mint this just may be a favorite. If you don't like mint, well, see paragraph #1.
27th September, 2008
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Infusion d'Homme by Prada

Infusion d'Homme is the only fragrance of the 08 designer releases I found worthy of investing in. I went with 50ml because I know that's all I need, but I love the 25oz bottle ($270) just for the way it looks and other big sizes are priced reasonably ($70/100ml, $100/200ml).

To a large extent it is an EdT version of Infusion d'Iris, but this is not a bad thing. The crux of the (male) fragrance is cool iris presented with a face of neroli. My only complaint is that the other listed notes (which, as with other Pradas are listed boldly on the bottle itself) of vetiver, benzoin and cedar are not noticeable in any meaningful way. I assume these ingredients/notes are in fact there, operating in the background and blended such that you can't pick up individual notes. Again, this isn't new for Prada. Amber Pour Homme, which is a favorite of mine, doesn't really smell at all like amber, and the notes stamped on a metal plaque to the top of the bottle aren't all that clearly detectable, either.

The strength isn't there to carry significant development into drydown. I tested d'Homme on one arm and d'Iris on the other... being an EdP d'Iris was stronger and lasted much longer, but I actually liked something about d'Homme much more. Perhaps it was the subtlety, or perhaps it was the functioning of different notes in the background.

Still, very enjoyable modern fragrance and better than Armani Diamonds, Versace Pour Homme, Givenchy Pi Neo, Davidoff Adventure, and almost everything else designers have offered guys this year.
26th September, 2008
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Private Collection - Bois Blond by Parfumerie Generale

Dry but not sweet at all, and anything but bland. One really must pay attention to the subtleties here. Bois Blond is sophisticated in its understated elegance, and as with all PG fragrances it exudes quality. If you stop at the top notes you'll probably not 'get' BB and be disappointed, so if you have the opportunity to test this make sure you let it develop for quite a while. The initial smell to me was almost like dirt - something like woody hay. These topnotes persist for quite a while. When I next checked my arm, the dirt/hay smell was gone and replaced with a wonderful, rich cedar/tobacco/amber. As one reviewer mentioned, the notes are constantly shifting, melding, and stepping in and out of prominence. I'm thinking I should jump on this LE release before its gone.
25th September, 2008
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Aoud Lime by Montale

It's not my thing to write bad reviews... usually I'd prefer to just forget it, but this might be a special case. I love lime notes so I ordered a sample of this along with a number of others from Montale. I didn't even need to smell my skin before knowing it was shockingly strong and awful... just the mist of what wafted up was enough to get me to wash off (I did smell my arm).

Try before you buy.
25th September, 2008
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Royal Scottish Lavender by Creed

By far the highest quality lavender I've ever tried. It is firm and sharp - the sharpness probably from the clove/spice notes that give this lavender and bite and an edge. It actually bites the nose a bit, especially on application. There is no alcohol or booziness at all, and the typical Creed dry down to amber is warm and a nice finish. I'm not sure any lavender fragrance is worth $150+, but when I run out of my decant I will seriously think about it.
25th September, 2008
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Chèvrefeuille Original by Creed

I spent a long weekend sampling Creeds when I found my hotel next to a Saks, and of the 20 or so I sampled Chevrefeuille was the most interesting and distinct from the others in the line. The reviews below are very good (except the one about licorice, which neither I nor anyone else detects), and I don't have much to add. The opening of honeysuckle/mint/florals and a touch of citrus is very unique, crisp, and enjoyable. I don't find CO to be feminine at all, and in fact the SA marketed it to me as a masculine. CO is basically linear, but this works for this type of fragrance for some reason. Longevity is average at best, which is kind of a downer for such a pricey fragrance, but otherwise this is high on my 'want a bottle' list.
14th September, 2008
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Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain

This is to vanilla fragrances what Audemars Piguet is to watches.... above and beyond anything either run-of-the-mill or even merely 'high-end'. I waited for six weeks for my sample and it was worth the wait. First off, a single spray allowed me to enjoy the fragrance for hours, and I could smell it without reaching my wrist to my nose (I was in a car).

The initial notes are a rich, deep and sweet vanilla. Within a few minutes, Double Vanille morphs into something that is like sweet pipe tobacco, slightly spicy and slightly woody. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanilla comes close, but doesn't have either the depth or spiciness. The fragrance continues to morph, with spice, wood, and vanilla notes intertwining. It finally settles into a vanilla-amber type of base. This was all from a single spray on the back of my hand, so I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to a full wear.

Now if I could just find a bottle....
10th September, 2008
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Rive Gauche pour Homme Light by Yves Saint Laurent

I love the original, but as we all know it can be quite the sillage monster and thus inappropriate for the office. The light version is what is says it is - a light version - and it can be applied liberally to enjoy the fragrance without worrying about someone at the end of the hall smelling you. It's not so light as be unnoticeable, especially by the wearer. I'd say it's toned down by about 30% from the original.
08th September, 2008
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Suivez-Moi by Fragonard

Comes off as somewhat odd.... I do not get the sweetness others report. Instead, I get a vanilla/lavender accord whose sweetness is tempered by citrus. This balance doesn't quite work, but it's not terrible either. The citrus wears off, leaving the lavender/vanilla accord for a couple hours. While I have nothing bad to say about Suivez-Moi, this is definitely one of those "diminishment through faint praise" situations.

Thumbs up, because it's not down or sideways.
05th September, 2008
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Fahrenheit Summer by Christian Dior

The previous excellent reviews cover it well.... take the original Fahrenheit and give it some citrusy floral topnotes. Once the topnotes fade the heart is still all Fahrenheit = but toned down by about 50%. On top of the fantastic original there's a little bit of citrus that adds 'twang' well into the base. Not nearly as much of a sillage monster as the original, but it can definitely announce presence, especially with a moderate application.
04th September, 2008 (last edited: 30th September, 2008)
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No. 22 Parfum by Chanel

I wore the EdT during a day shopping at a high-end mall. I sampled various other niche fragrances that day, and without any question No.22 blew them all away.

Achingly beautiful.
04th September, 2008
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Fleur de Vanille by Fragonard

My fellow reviewer below is incorrect, this is definitely unisex. Fragonard Vanille is not masculine by any means, but as far as vanillas go this one is firmly non-feminine. What I like about this one is the subtle sandalwood and spice undertones that distinguish this vanilla from others. I don't get much by way of patchouli notes, but this note may be part of the subtle background that takes the edge of the sweetness of the vanilla.
03rd September, 2008
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Fleur d'Iris by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

I experienced Fleur d'Iris somewhat differently than did Foetidus. Of course he's far more educated in these arts, so take my review for what it's worth.

I initially sense an accord that is mostly iris, with perhaps some green notes to fill it out. Within a few minutes the first traces of vanilla appear, and slowly but surely vanilla becomes a more prominent note. I never thought of, or experienced, a vanilla iris accord. It is fantastic... the coolness and woodiness of the iris balanced against the warmth of vanilla. As the fragrance develops, vanilla becomes more prominent. About 3 hours after application the iris is but a coolly mild hint, and the vanilla becomes more amber-ish and musky.

I received samples of this simultaneously with MPG's Iris Bleu Gris. IBG is the 'masculine' iris by this house, and whereas pepper to balance iris in IBG, Fleur d'Iris uses vanilla. Fleur d'Iris is not particularly feminine and could easily worn by guys.

Top Notes: Rose, leafy green;
Middle Notes: Iris, vanilla, jasmine, violet;
Base Notes: Ambergris, vetiver, musk.
30th August, 2008
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Eau Noire Cologne by Christian Dior

I was so excited to try this, especially with the other Dior Homme exclusives being such winners, with some of those reviews proclaiming Eau Noir to be the best of the three. Oy Vey! I rarely write negative reviews because usually if I don't like something I can still see the qualities in it that make something good. I can acknowledge that just because I don't like a note or two, a fragrance can still be good but just not for me. Not this.

The opening, to me, was dead on lentil soup - with too much salt. I've sampled it now three times, and each time I could swear it smells like salty lentil soup. The fragrance then goes somewhere unexpected - to a sickly sweet amber that is very similar to Tom Ford Amber Absolute. The basenotes come back around full circle, combining amber and some salty/spicy/incense notes that, jumbled together, are somewhat unpleasant.

Not for me at all, and just bizarre. I think Bois d'Argent is the best of the three, with Cologne Blanche right behind.
29th August, 2008
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Hermèssence Rose Ikebana by Hermès

I'm not much for rose fragrances, but I find this one very enjoyable and more unisex than any other rose-centered fragrance. As people have noted, the opening is citrus and rose, probably 60::40/citrus::rose. Predictably, the citrus fades and the rose becomes more prominent. A healthy application lasts about 3-4 hours. As with most of the other Hermesscences, this is a minimalist composition, uncluttered with extra notes or background 'noise' to detract from the simplicity of the rose and citrus. If you look at it in this context instead of comparing to preconceived notions or expectations, the lack of longevity doesn't detract from the quality of the scent. Admittedly this is expensive juice to be reapplying 3-4 times in a day. Not the best of the Hermessence line, but definitely among the tops from the Hermes house.

Thumbs up!
27th August, 2008
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Vanilia by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I'm not sure why, but I have a thing for vanilla fragrances. It's odd because otherwise I shy away from sweet scents, especially anything both fruity and sweet. Having sampled many vanilla fragrances, I can honestly say this is one of my favorite, and it is the best representation of one end of the vanilla spectrum. Specifically, this is a minimalist, light vanilla, as opposed to thick, rich amber heavy vanillas such as SL Un Bois Vanille or floral vanillas like Dior Addict.

I assume it's the addition of ethylmaltol that makes Vanilia unique (Turin, p.347). The effect to my nose is to create a soapy undertone to the vanilla note, which is already delicate to begin with. The overall result is a vanilla that is lightly sweetened without being overbearing or cloying in the slightest. There isn't much development - after all this is a vanilla fragrance - but I did notice that the soapiness eventually mellows, making the entire composition a little cotton-candyish.

Definitely bottle-worthy, Vanilia would be a great for the office or anywhere else that you want to enjoy vanilla without projecting yourself like a dunkin donuts. Although definitely wearable by a man, this would be a sexy vanilla on a woman.
27th August, 2008
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Mûre et Musc Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

If you don't like Mure et Musc, it makes sense to not try the Extreme, otherwise you'll be tempted to write a duplicate bad review referencing your original poor review. And that would just be totally absurd.

I digress. L'Artisan continues to challenge and defy my normal fragrance preferences. I'm generally not at all fond of fruity fragrances, but I like this! Perhaps it's because the berry notes are not sweet, but sparkly - as though you were sniffing berry flavored soda water (Polar brand, if you know it). This berry, in confluence with the musky and powdery base, creates a unique fragrance that you just can't help but like. I'll admit I was indifferent at first, but just a couple repeat wears allowed me to see the simple happiness of MeM Extreme.

As I sample more L'Artisan fragrances I'm finding that some of their most simply constructed scents are the best. It's counterintuitive that it should take a more trained nose to recognize the quality inherent in simplicity.
27th August, 2008
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Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens

I had no idea this was classified as 'feminine' until I saw it here on BN. Obviously it's my opinion that there's nothing about UBV that makes it more feminine than any other gourmand. And what a gourmand this is!! It's every smell that one would encounter in an espresso shop/bakery, the sweetness of which is grounded and somewhat tempered by undertones of woody notes. There's a lot going on here, and as with other Lutens you can chose to either pick out individual notes, of which there are many, or you can just sit back and just take in the entirety of the aroma wafting up at you. Having just used up a pretty healthy sized sample, I will wait until winter to buy this, not because I wouldn't want to wear it in the heat, but rather because it would be so wonderful to be all bundled up in a parka in the cold outside with a healthy dose of Un Bois Vanille seeping out from beneath the coat.
26th August, 2008
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Eau d'Été by Nicolaï

A nice, mild citrus/fruit/light floral fragrance that lasts a good while but stays extremely close to the skin. I had higher hopes that this would be a more robust citrus. BN has this listed as feminine but it's technically unisex... there's nothing that makes this more feminine than any other light citrus fragrance. I'm glad I bought the 30ml and didn't spend a whole lot. Good stuff but I won't back up my bottle...

Thumbs up
24th August, 2008
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Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum by Helmut Lang

As a big fan of the EDC I've been looking forward to trying the EDP, especially because longevity is the biggest problem with the EDP. First off, this is not the exact same fragrance as the men's version, but more concentrated... close but not exact. They are both blended such that individual notes are not immediately evident.

Whereas the EDC starts out with the 'sharper' notes (jasmine? rosemary?) from the get-go, the EDP starts more softly, with the florals more prominent, and the woody and patchouli notes present themselves later. Most people immediately recognize the buttery feel of this fragrance... what creates this buttery effect is the combination of musk, heliotrope and vanilla. The more I wear it the less I interpret the scent as 'butter'. I believe the EDP is less 'buttery' anyway.

Rounding out he musk are some light florals - lily of the valley and rose. Lightly piercing through the musk and florals are woody notes of cedar, patchouli and sandalwood. Of course this really is a skin scent, and on me the sandalwood is particularly evident and sharp - almost spicy. HL does not present itself this way on my girlfriend at all. The florals persist longer, and are more noticeable, in the EDP. Overall either version is unisex. Seeing as though Dior Homme has made it ok for guys to florals, HL really was ahead of its time.

As of this writing both versions are getting harder to find and the cost is going up. If you're interested I'd recommend checking HL out before it becomes elusive.

Thumbs UP

23rd August, 2008