Reviews by jtd

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    jtd
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    1969 Parfum de Rťvolte by Histoires de Parfums

    I was born in 1964 and the year 1969 seems like arcadia to me, a time I was too young to understand and appreciate. As a decade, as a phenomenon, the 1960s has come to represent many things, from naivetť to revolution, but I assume in this case 1969 refers to the expansiveness, freedom-seeking and questioning of authority that flowed forth after the 1967 Summer of Love. †You know, the hippy thing. ("Parfume de Rťvolte") To my nose, though, 1969 seems far more contemporary. It takes the fruity floral to school, demonstrating that even a genre as threadbare as the contemporary fruity floral can be beautiful and complex in the right hands. †Where the hoard of trashy fruitchoulis are glaring, as if highlighted by mercury vapor street lights, 1969 is professionally lit and ready for the camera. Hoard? Whatís the collective noun for fruitchoulis? A host? A murder? A gaggle? A cast? Letís appropriate from the collective noun for the no-longer-used maidens. A rage of fruitchoulis.

    1969 has a combination of softness, urgency and definition that gives a depth of tone that I would expect in a classic chypre but am startled by in a fruitchouli. †It balances intensity and austerity as a chypre would (think YSLís Y) but still has a bit of that puppy energy of a fruitchouli. Quite sexy, really.

    02 December, 2012

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    1889 Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

    Histoires de Parfumsís conceit of historical and literary themes is schtick. But whatís wrong with a bit of schtick? Trying to convey more than Ďlifestyleí is a pleasant change in perfume PR. The need to mention both the year and the event the to tells you that the themes are not intended to be obvious. Iím instinctively leery of marketing, but HdP do take a stand against the the flanker mentality. After all how would they manage it? ď1889, FevrierĒ followed by ď1889, NovembreĒ? I applaud the effort. Itís not merely a name trick, either. The HdP line is varied yet identifiable, and so far doesnít seem to fill genre-slots with perfume placeholders. And it certainly keeps us away from (identifiable name), (identifiable name) liqueur de parfums, (identifiable name) les cuirs de parfums, (identifiable name) sunessence eau legere du bois blond avec les fruit du cosmos, etc.

    1889 refers to the Moulin Rouge and would assumedly be boisterous, huge and have little self-restraint. I thought it would be the glam-rocker of the bunch. (That would be 1804.) At the risk of mixing eras, Iíd imagined, a sort of Ďwhat happens in the Moulin Rouge stays in the Moulin Rouge.í On the contrary, 1889 turns out to be a rather quiet and contemplative perfume.

    It starts out smelling like the inside of a purse that has a ripe pear in it. †As others have mentioned it is a lipsticky, face-powdery iris fragrance but it also has a sweet, fruity side. Iíve seen prune, plum, tangerine listed as notes, but it smells like pear to me. It simmers down pretty quickly and in the end it's fairly reserved and stays close to the skin reminding me a bit of the iris-hyacinth accord found in Lutensís Bas de Soie. Cool, matte, muted. Moulin Rouge? More like a red herring.

    02 December, 2012

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    1804 by Histoires de Parfums

    1804 is a tropical fantasy of a perfume. Speaking for my people, pasty white folks, tropical is something we can refer to but can never really pull off. We just weren't meant to. And though I shout to the heavens that taste is arbitrary, nuance can be the difference between a sunburnt, drunken conga line listing to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and a quiet hand-in-hand evening walk in the sand. †

    Imagine one of the huge white floral perfumes on tropical vacation: Joy sunbathing in Moorea or Amouage Gold diving in Tahiti. Keep the volume and the sillage, but dial back the uptight. 1804 is a spicy floriental in the grand manner. The allusion may be to tropical scents, but this bad girl is a classic French perfume in her bones. ††As such, 1804 has exceptional form, but since the implied tone of lushness and leisure takes precedence over structure, form gives way to expression. †Form as seen in a 'classical' †white floral fragrance seems like artifice. Intent and composition are fused in 1804 and it achieves that balletic ambition of surpassing technique and simply moving. †

    1804 is a spectacular application of classical technique and should put the corner-cutting school of perfumery on notice.†

    Swoon-worthy.†

    02 December, 2012

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    Futur by Robert Piguet

    Futur was marketed as avant-garde at its release in the late 1960s, an era known for its conviction that the future was more about style than science. In the 60s, the future was in fact the 1960s with sleeker fashion, poses and objets (rayguns and cocktail glasses). Smelled in the present, the revived Futur can be considered a bit retro not because it smells tired, but because the green floral didnít so much evolve as (with a few exceptions) become extinct. Futurís points of direct comparison are this handful of extant green florals from the 1960s-1970s: Chamade, Metal, Silences, Weil de Weil, No 19, Alliage and especially Private Collection. (Iím not going to stare into the abyss of attempting to distinguish the green floral from the green chypre.) Niche perfumery has produced a few examples of the style since the late 1960s, but mainstream perfumery has more or less dropped it.

    The green floral might appear out of step with current trends in mainstream perfumery, but Robert Piguet are smart to include it in their line. It is comparable in archival tone to Fracas and Bandit, and like these two, smartly encapsulates a genre. Additionally, as a well composed melodious floral it fits in with more recent releases from Piguet such as Douglas Hannant and Petit Fracas. It is also composed by Arelien Guichard, the perfumer responsible for the recent spate of new RP releases (Casbah, Mademoiselle Piguet, etc.).

    Futur is a beautiful green floral. It reminds me that green florals can capture beauty, complexity, and intrigue in ways that mixed white florals aspire to and fruity forals donít even attempt. Green florals are alluring, and Futur is no exception. It has a bright-eyed composure and doesnít come off as heavily coiffed and made up as Private Collection and Chamade do. Itís not as stagey as Metal. Informal, but not slack Futur has a simple chic to it. It shows an astute abstraction in the composition that makes it one of the black-box perfumes. You can see into it whatever you please, and as a result, it works in most any context.

    30th November, 2012

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    Angel: Liqueur de Parfum by Thierry Mugler

    I generally find the Mugler annual variations on a theme somewhere between a stab in the dark and a Hail Mary pass. Every now and then, though, the monkey will type something other than gibberish.

    Angel Liqueur de Parfum finds just the set of notes that modulates Angel's tone of voice without altering what it has to say. Clearly boozier, itís also more grounded and harmonic than the original Alien. The range between the higher, bright/loud notes and the dirt from the patchouli has a bit more padding to it. Itís still on high volume, but itís modulated differently and makes you wince a bit less on first spray.

    Angel's thrill comes from its energized contrasts. Angel Liqueur de Parfum keeps all the contrasts in place, but loosens the binding on the corset a bit. The mania is gone, but the exuberance is still there. Where Angel feels like it's perpetually on tiptoe and at peak inhalation, Angel Liqueur de Parfum exhales and stands at ease.

    30th November, 2012

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    Alien: Les Parfums de Cuir by Thierry Mugler

    Angel les Parfum de Cuir & Alien les Parfum de Cuir

    While I loved Angel Liqueur, I found the Mugler annual thematic releases uninteresting except for the apparent belief that branding is more important than perfume. It might make the magic of marketing synergy easier to achieve, but slapping a new flavor across an entire line seems at least cynical and more likely haphazard. I suppose, though, that every now and again a match has to occur. It also makes sense that Angel, with its fingers in so many different genres (gourmand, oriental, floral) is more likely than Alien, Womanity or Mugler Cologne to be fertile soil where the flavor of the year can plant itself.

    Angel les Parfum de Cuir can hold the leather note without it seeming entirely out of place, but the leather does nothing to enhance Angel. It muddies Angelís distinctive qualities, but it doesn't negate them. Sort of, meh. Not exactly the Angel battle cry.

    Alien les Parfum de Cuir matches a dulled leather notes to the radioactive jasmine of the original Alien, giving us a real head scratcher. There are no interesting commonalities and no juxtapositions to exploit. Until the leather note fades, when it is ultimately crushed under the weight of chemo floral oppression, Alien Cuir just seems like a mismatch, more of a smell that a scent.

    Mugler's Cuirs are by definition formulaic and lack inspiration. They seem to come from the same thinking that give us, "Ugghhh. Itís November again. What should this year's holiday office party theme be? "

    30th November, 2012

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    Angel: Les Parfums de Cuir by Thierry Mugler

    Angel les Parfum de Cuir & Alien les Parfum de Cuir

    While I loved Angel Liqueur, I found the Mugler annual thematic releases uninteresting except for the apparent belief that branding is more important than perfume. It might make the magic of marketing synergy easier to achieve, but slapping a new flavor across an entire line seems at least cynical and more likely haphazard. I suppose, though, that every now and again a match has to occur. It also makes sense that Angel, with its fingers in so many different genres (gourmand, oriental, floral) is more likely than Alien, Womanity or Mugler Cologne to be fertile soil where the flavor of the year can plant itself.

    Angel les Parfum de Cuir can hold the leather note without it seeming entirely out of place, but the leather does nothing to enhance Angel. It muddies Angelís distinctive qualities, but it doesn't negate them. Sort of, meh. Not exactly the Angel battle cry.

    Alien les Parfum de Cuir matches a dulled leather notes to the radioactive jasmine of the original Alien, giving us a real head scratcher. There are no interesting commonalities and no juxtapositions to exploit. Until the leather note fades, when it is ultimately crushed under the weight of chemo floral oppression, Alien Cuir just seems like a mismatch, more of a smell that a scent.

    Mugler's Cuirs are by definition formulaic and lack inspiration. They seem to come from the same thinking that give us, "Ugghhh. Itís November again. What should this year's holiday office party theme be? "

    30th November, 2012

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    Rose Anonyme by Atelier Cologne

    The proposition of crossing the bright effusive tenor-like quality of an eau de cologne (the genre, not the dilution) with the concentration of an eau de parfum is a wonderful idea, but is not particularly new. Previous attempts have tried to make the classical edc notes (citrus, herbs, etc.) last all day. The only success from this approach that occurs to me is the typically male, cologne-like chypres from mid-20th century France such as Chanelís Pour Monsieur, Monsieur Givenchy, Rochasís Moustache and Eau díHermes. Rose Anonyme twists the challenge and brings the sentiment of an edc to new accords. Rose Anonyme comes off fresh-faced and pretty like a cologne, but has the patience of an EDP. It's simplicity is easy to wear, but it is far from simpleminded.

    Skipping the solely citrus focus of an EDC, RA instead plays on a number of facets of Rose scents. The lighter, brighter aspect of rose, initially highlighted by bergamot, give way to a loud, rosy pink peony quality, and eventually to a dusky rosewood like feel. This is all filtered through a reedy incense and a metallic musk. I think the "ginger" note is a red herring, redirecting our focus so that we read the synthetic quality of the musk as something more botanical. Not exactly Nature Boy, I say wear your synthetic proudly. This is a wonderful and inventive perfume. Don't bother feeding me the nature trip.

    Not just beautiful to wear, RA is that refreshing reminder that there are new ideas to be explored in perfumery.

    30th November, 2012

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    Visa by Robert Piguet

    Visa puts a slightly different touch on the fruity perfume. Itís a stewed stone fruit mix. Plummy/peachy/apricot-like. Itís also got a taste of indeterminate spice along the clove/cardammom/nutmeg axis. Spices that would go well with stone fruit, incidentally. Itís not bright by a long shot, but neither is it heavy or impenetrable. Though dark and concentrated, it remains notably fruity; not boozy, not syrupy, not leathery to my nose (despite many reviews Iíve read), and not Ďradiantí in the grand Iso-E Super manner.

    The drydown loses some of the wattage the fruit has at the start, but comes to have a hushed nectar-sweetness similar in olfactory hue to the woody/aromatic scent a piece of unfinished rosewood has.

    If youíre looking for a fruity perfume that doesnít convey ditziness or guilelessness, try Visa.

    30th November, 2012

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    Cozť 02 by Parfumerie Generale

    Coze offers both that fresh, moist feel of a close-fitted evergreen forest canopy and the dry, herbal tone of a dry forest floor. With its hemp foundation, though, the other side of this combination of notes is an over-baked hash brownie. A delight either way.

    30th November, 2012

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    Carolina Herrera by Carolina Herrera

    People who lived large and loud in the 1980s will tell you that the bigness of the era was a reflection of exuberance and the sense of endless potential. It wasnít. It was mostly just un-nuanced and noisy.

    Enter Carolina Herrera, the perfume, not the person. Itís a childís stick-drawing of a tuberose blown up to billboard size, shaken with a shot of over-concentrated sugar-free grape kool-aid. Both monstrous and shrill, it was overconfident where it should have been self-conscious. Classically 80s in style, Carolina Herrera reminds me how tedious and draining those conversations with people on blow were.

    30th November, 2012

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    Passion by Annick Goutal

    The emotion passion has come to be confused with the expression of passion. Focussing on quixotic symbolic gesture, passion has come to mean any attention seeking act. With a vocabulary borrowed from the romantic comedy, itís a very long short-hand. Set this in a culture where an actionís value varies directly with the number of people who witness it and passion loses its meaning as an internal state.

    Annick Goutalís Passion fits an older definition that describes an emotional state on the spectrum from enthusiasm to compulsion. Yes, there are objects of passion, but passion is what you yourself feel.

    Passion, the perfume, is gorgeous. Itís a blended floral, a prospect that by itself is hit-or-miss, but itís also a combination of tropical and seasonal white florals. A failure with this mix of genres could be a disaster, but Passion is exquisite. It is identifiable and has excellent form along with an ambiguity that lends itself to mystery rather than indecision.

    Mixed florals such as Patouís Joy and de Nicolaiís Number One show that the Ďprettierí aspects of a flower, the sweetness and light, are important, but the expertise lies in the perfumer's use of the rawer, less obviously fetching side of the flower. Passion draws on this underbelly of the flower to paint a mixed floral, but because it used both classical and tropical flowers, it has a larger palette to draw on. I donít find Passion overwhelming or oversized. It is buttery and textured and relaxed. Passion lets its hair down. As for us men, Passion leaves its shirt-tails untucked suggesting not so much informality as the desire for an easy range of motion. Again, passion isnít about the reading. itís about the inspired state.

    30th November, 2012

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    1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums

    Perfume genres are based on composition (components): chypre (oakmoss), floral, gourmand, fougere (coumarin), oriental (labdanum), fruitchouli. Sometimes these categories are helpful. They hold together. For instance, I like chypres and I donít like sweet gourmands. But there are exceptions that make the compositional genre approach less effective. That is, Iím inclined to like fougeres and I generally donít like aquatics.

    In my head I tend to use other qualitative categories that feel more functional to me. 1740 falls squarely into one. 1740 is large, full, expansive, rich. Itís rumbling, church-organ harmonious, full-bodied. Typical of the conundrum of talking about perfume, although I have a clear image of what this sort of fragrance is, I donít have a good word to name it, to describe it. My fall-back is Huge Fucking Perfumes. The fragrances in this pseudo-genre arenít necessarily alike in structure, they just wear similarly for me. They tend to fall into two subcategories: chewy/boozy (Mauboussin by Mauboussin, Kiss Me Tender, Daphne Guinness, líOmbre Fauve) and dry (Sikkim, Mahora, Yatagan, Aromatics Elixir, Cuir díIris.) Some have a foot in each camp like Aramisís JHL and Havana.

    1740 is a huge fucking dry perfume. Leathery and tobacco-ish, dense but expansive, rich but not bubbly. This sort of fragrance tends to get pigeon-holed with aspirational gender goals. ĎItís the sort of fragrance Cary Grant, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney...would wear.Ď Since gender is really fantasy, the original war/role playing online-game, with the gaming community historically being humanity, letís expand the field. 1740 is the sort of fragrance that Michelle Wie, Jane Goodall or Gwen Eiffel... would wear. Worn for yourself, itís the center point between cozy and stimulating. Worn for others, it projects confidence and contentment. For me, perhaps even more than other fragrances, a huge fucking perfumes deserve to be worn primarily for yourself. Others liking it, or not, is beside the point.

    30th November, 2012

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    L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer

    I read Susan Orleanís The Orchid Thief years ago. Some time after, I saw the film Adaptation, about which I knew nothing except that it had something to do with the book. To make a film about the inability of the screenwriter to adapt the book was an interesting premise and I found I loved the film. It was smart and exceedingly entertaining, a balance Hollywood manages to find only rarely.

    Iíd hoped to be clever enough to dream up some ingenious way of talking about líAir du Desert Marocain. I thought if I waited long enough, it would become clear. Two years down the road, Iím throwing in the towel on wit and inspiration.

    I wear perfume every day, but this is the perfume I wear when I want to make wearing perfume a special occasion. I think of it as remarkable, but since Iíve never managed to be able to say anything sensical about it, remarkable is precisely the wrong word. A well-considered piece of abstract art shouldnít be judged more successful as it grows closer to the descriptive or narrative. Those criteria are irrelevant. Despite its dreamy name, líAir is an outstanding abstract perfume in that it is rich with ideas and imbued with possibility. If anything, it is more evocative than suggestive. I donít think, desert. I donít think, smoke = incense = sacred. I smell it and my head rises, my shoulders release, my eyes open and the world becomes saturated. This is how perfume is art.

    30th November, 2012

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    Musc Intense by NicolaÔ

    I wasnít expecting armpit musk from Patricia de Nicolai. For that I look elsewhere. I might have been expecting boozy-berry-sweet. As it turns out I got neither. Musc Intense is as much a white floral as it is a musk. It starts with snappy florals, starched rather than lush. Rosey, yet white. Thereís a feel of alcohol, but not booze, if you catch my meaning. More like slivovitz than creme de cassis.

    Musc Intense grows drier and crisper. Then it ignites. The heartnotes and drydown have the feel of flowers drying before your eyes. The crispness becomes brightness, the brightness grows glaring and in the end, Musc Intense has a cold-flame feel akin to Lauderís White Linen. Where White Linenís drydown reveals a warmed cheek of musky rose, Musc Intense stays blue-flame cold. This glaring tone suggests the corrosive feel of powdered laundry soap, but it does so with a wink. The implication of the cheap side of musk along with double-distilled flowers shows the humor of Musc Intense. It is simultaneously chic and cheeky.

    Patricia de Nicolai is recognized for her taste and refinement. Kudos to her for spending her style-capital on a cocky and sassy yet modish little number like Musc Intense.

    30th November, 2012

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    Nuit de NoŽl by Caron

    There was a television commercial for make-up that aired when I was young. It tried to sell the viewer on the notion that nobody would even know you were wearing make-up! Not too bright, I took this to mean that make-up did nothing whatsoever. I thought if nobody notices, why wear it? To this day, Iíve never understood make-up.

    Nuit de Noel strikes me similarly. It smells identifiably Ďperfumeyí yet on the level of perfume, it comes off as forcefully non-descript----intentionally under-recognizable. It is a soft chypre, soft like a seat-cushion filled with marshmallows. It doesnít evolve over time so much as it fades into the skin. Once on the skin, though, it doesnít disappear. It gives the impression of of something ostensibly hidden but easily found. Itís the person playing hide and seek who heads for the nearest tree, then hides behind it, peaking out often to see whatís happening.

    Low wattage, low sillage, if you close your eyes, it might smell like either a tiny spritz of perfume or a whole lot of make-up. Great for a man if youíre willing to accept the implication.

    30th November, 2012

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    Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Vanilla is a key component to both the contemporary dessert/gourmand and the classic amber oriental. Vanilla is almost inescapable in perfumery, but itís usually found in the familiar company of labdanum, balsams, resins, spices or ethylmaltol in the above genres. It takes effort to dissociate it from the foody, cuddly feel. Despite its brief plastic/cotton-candy camouflage topnote (wonderful!), un Bois Vanille does just this. After the foody misdirection, BV avoids the expected. The tease of edibility shows itself as a licorice note, not cotton candy. The licorice also keeps BV from going the amber/oriental route since the genre is almost by definition warm, round, thick. Licorice here comes off as anise-like not candy-like. Itís cool and focussed and it brings out vanillaís sharp, bitter side, making it more potent than plush.

    After the expansive opening the heartnotes are fairly quiet, with a dry, airy feel that I would think to associate with frankincense, not vanilla. By drydown BV is dusty but still taut, reinforcing the point that vanilla can be strong and direct without being lush. BV stays cool as it winds down and resists becoming a skin-scent, further bucking a vanilla stereotype.

    BV solves a problem for me. One of very few in perfume fan-dom, I donít like Caronís Pour un Homme. The lavender/vanilla combo has no synergy and reminds me of the feel of a stuffy head. In BV, the cool side of the licorice fuses with the vanilla in a way that I imagine Pour un Hommeís minty lavender and vanilla combo works for the rest of the world.

    30th November, 2012

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    Diane by Diane von Furstenberg

    I'd imagine that a challenge for a perfumer working on a mainstream release in an identifiable genre, with mindless briefs, insufficient budgets and vague/contradictory restrictions ('We want a big cotton-candy perfume like X and Y, but classier, edgier and, you know, not really so cotton candyish. And it should read as exclusive and expensive but, you know, not really cost anything.') is can you manage to make a good perfume?

    If novelty is valued exclusively over quality, then youíre screwed. But look at some of the historically and artistically successful perfumes that were neither first nor, frankly, innovative: Mitsouko, LíHeure Bleue, Shalimar. Thereís something to be said for considering objective product guidelines: is it well designed, well produced and does it work well and consistently? My examples are the classic early 20th Guerlains for a reason. The classic perfume house is neither the designer who uses fragrance as an accessory to pump up profits, nor the niche line that employs the implicitly short term strategy of defining itself as something other than the mainstream. Chypres, orientals. Guerlain relied on recognizable genres, made exceedingly good perfumes based on these genres, the perfumes sold long and well and now are icons.

    Diane von Furstenberg is a mainstream fashion company, so the expectation should be low. Fortunately she trusted the creation of the perfume to a classical perfumer, Aurelien Guichard.

    Diane is not Guichardís most innovative work, but it is an exceptionally good perfume and it is perfectly legible. It is neither transparent, in the sense of cheap motives, nor simplistic. It sits comfortably in its genre, the woody, musky-floral, illuminating the best facets of the genre. It balances its opposing tendencies (light/dark, creamy/sharp) with just a touch of tension, giving an easy richness. Diane alludes to a number of perfumes from different genres. The references are more cheeky than copy-cat. The opening of the edp suggests Rochasí Tocade and Gres Cabaret. The opening of the edt evoke Aromatics Elixir and Agent Provocateur. The heartnotes of both remind me of Guichardís own Azzaro Couture. Diane is very much its own perfume. The reference to other perfumes is part of the legibility of Diane. At all times it is its own perfume, an easy musky patchouli rose with elements of the chypre, the woody floral and the oriental rounding it and padding it.

    Using a recognizable genre could be safe or it could be daring. For a less talented perfumer the big-target approach makes a recognizable genre an obvious choice, especially if the project has a low budget. It makes for easy recognizability to the consumer, and if the genre is a popular one the least common denominators line themselves up. For an expert perfumer, the challenge is, how to rise above the pat, the already-tried. Guichard does so with apparent ease and with a sublte Ďin your faceí boast. He manages to make 2 variations, the edt and the edp, both of which are successful and just different enough from each other to suggest that the are distinct answers to the same question.

    30th November, 2012

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    Lady Gaga Fame by Lady Gaga

    Thank god perfume has the capacity to reveal truths that current mass media cannot. If you were to believe the visual imagery, the music, the PR, youíd assume that Justin Bieber was the tween idol and Gaga was the Edgy Artist who Will Not be Restrained ©. But Bieberís perfume, with its stagnant topnotes becomes a kool aid made with non-potable water and has at least some edge.

    Gagaís scentscape of the mall shows that sheís the true tween queen. The shock appeal of stunts like the meat dress and Drastic Fashion is transformed in this perfume into the shockingly banal. Fame is a cloying, simple fruit soup. It rides a tight line between the dual sensibilities of 1) yet another faceless vapid floriberry, and, 2) worse.

    Born this way? Reductionist, but thatís where the pendulum has swung and I get it. Smell this way? Good lord, no.

    30th November, 2012

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    Jasmal by Creed

    I really don't find the indolic jasmine that others mention. The opening is not appealing, but it is interesting for the fact that it does hold together some opposing elements. The topnotes , while not smelling of jasmine to me, are sharp and arid, yet green and crisp and a bit urinous.

    I spent a brief paragrapsh on the topnotes. Let me be more concise with the next two and give a snapshot of the complexity and charm of the perfume in its heart and basenotes.

    Gets soapy.

    Smells like inexpensive lily of the valley.

    I used to try to understand Creed, and felt that I just wasn't a Creed customer. Knowing that their concept ('the esteemed house of Creed') and their representation of the company strike a nerve in me, I've given them more benefit of the doubt than I otherwise would have. I'm revising my opinion. I simply don't think that the bulk of the Creed fragrances I've tried are very good. The compositions are unfocussed, often derivative and evolution of the fragrances tends to be unengaging.

    To end on a positive note, I really do like Irisia.

    30th November, 2012

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    Virgin Island Water by Creed

    Virgin Island Water wants to convey "tropical." It doesn't smell so much like the Carribean as it does a Brit on holiday in the Carribean. It doesn't smell like coconuts and warm weather flowers. It smells like mojitos, piŮa coladas and suntan lotion (that's the anscestor of sunblock to you kids.) I smell VIW and I visualize the stereotypical holiday traveller. The pasty skin turning red and the oddly conceived shorts, socks and shoes combinations.

    Another risk of the piŮa colada flavor is that it can evoke the scent of fabric softener. Where Angel might be able to pull off the edible/poisonous contradiction, VIW can't. But then again, I don't like piŮa coladas. The irony (well, one irony) of this perfume is that the cloying aspects would be magnified if worn in a hot, humid location, the Virgin Islands for instance.

    Despite the build up to the 2012 Olympics I feel that England itself needs no PR. Does GB really need Creed, then, to export its equivalent to the ugly American, the holiday traveller with visions of 007 dancing in his head?

    30th November, 2012

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    Original Santal by Creed

    Creed engender devotees as often as they do conspiracy theorists. People either seem to fall for the story or they mistrust it. Other than Irisia, which I am partial to, I haven't found a Creed that I enjoy. Though Creed's marketing schtick is particularly ludicrous and pretentious, is it really any worse than, say, Chanel or Taylor Swift? If you accept that all marketing is lies told for the sole purpose of luring you in, then style and story really make no difference.



    But Creed's marketing and mythology are such an easy read that it becomes fun. When the life of leisure and affluence is sold to you over and over with each perfume, you come to realize that they're not even trying to sell you the image of a particular lifestyle, but the very notion of aspiration. As for Original Santal itself, a century late in the game Creed want to sell you not just a perfume but an empire.

    Reading between the lines of the name tells you a bit about this this perfume up front. The name and the date of release tell you the same thing twice--there won't be much real mysore sandalwood to it. "Santal": commercial sandalwood harvesting has been banned in India since the late 1990s and the dwindling supply available is too expensive for largescale commercial perfume use. As for "Original" I defer to the logic of Creed's Original Vetiver, which, not being a vetiver perfume, implies that Original Santal will not be a sandalwood fragrance.

    There are a few possibilities for Creed making a sandalwood fragrance today. 1) The Creeds have hoarded pre-ban sandalwood in the wine cellars of their ancestral castle. 2) They rely on synthetic sandalwood chemicals. 3) They recreate a sandalwood scent using other elements such as cedar, woody ambers, rosewood, lactones, etc.. 4) They make a fragrance that has no particular relationship to the scent of sandalwood. 5) When thay say Mysore, they mean Australia sandalwood. My money is on # 4, but 2, 3 and 5 have a ring of truth to them.

    Sandalwood oil has a number of olfactory qualities, all of which can be sensed in harmony but are clear enough to be singled out. Woodiness, sweetness, creaminess, tartness. Richness, really. OS takes the slightly wrong angle of each quality and mixes them into a murky, lingering perfume. It smells a bit like rum sick to me, but to read the reviews at rating sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, a lot of people enjoy it.

    I know I spend more time writing about Creed's talk than their perfume. And while I do believe that all marketing is equal, the differences being stylistic, Creed want to sell you a particular fiction phrased as history before they even start to sell you a perfume. Their implication of authenticity in a bottle should be questioned as closely as their perfume. Creed engender devotees as often as they do conspiracy theorists. People either seem to fall for the story or they mistrust it. Other than Irisia, which I am partial to, I haven't found a Creed that I enjoy. Though Creed's marketing schtick is particularly ludicrous and pretentious, is it really any worse than, say, Chanel or Taylor Swift? If you accept that all marketing is lies told for the sole purpose of luring you in, then style and story really make no difference.



    But Creed's marketing and mythology are such an easy read that it becomes fun. When the life of leisure and affluence is sold to you over and over with each perfume, you come to realize that they're not even trying to sell you the image of a particular lifestyle, but the very notion of aspiration. As for Original Santal itself, a century late in the game Creed want to sell you not just a perfume but an empire.

    Reading between the lines of the name tells you a bit about this this perfume up front. The name and the date of release tell you the same thing twice--there won't be much real mysore sandalwood to it. "Santal": commercial sandalwood harvesting has been banned in India since the late 1990s and the dwindling supply available is too expensive for largescale commercial perfume use. As for "Original" I defer to the logic of Creed's Original Vetiver, which, not being a vetiver perfume, implies that Original Santal will not be a sandalwood fragrance.

    There are a few possibilities for Creed making a sandalwood fragrance today. 1) The Creeds have hoarded pre-ban sandalwood in the wine cellars of their ancestral castle. 2) They rely on synthetic sandalwood chemicals. 3) They recreate a sandalwood scent using other elements such as cedar, woody ambers, rosewood, lactones, etc.. 4) They make a fragrance that has no particular relationship to the scent of sandalwood. 5) When thay say Mysore, they mean Australia sandalwood. My money is on # 4, but 2, 3 and 5 have a ring of truth to them.

    Sandalwood oil has a number of olfactory qualities, all of which can be sensed in harmony but are clear enough to be singled out. Woodiness, sweetness, creaminess, tartness. Richness, really. OS takes the slightly wrong angle of each quality and mixes them into a murky, lingering perfume. It smells a bit like rum sick to me, but to read the reviews at rating sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, a lot of people enjoy it.

    I know I spend more time writing about Creed's talk than their perfume. And while I do believe that all marketing is equal, the differences being stylistic, Creed want to sell you a particular fiction phrased as history before they even start to sell you a perfume. Their implication of authenticity in a bottle should be questioned as closely as their perfume. Creed engender devotees as often as they do conspiracy theorists. People either seem to fall for the story or they mistrust it. Other than Irisia, which I am partial to, I haven't found a Creed that I enjoy. Though Creed's marketing schtick is particularly ludicrous and pretentious, is it really any worse than, say, Chanel or Taylor Swift? If you accept that all marketing is lies told for the sole purpose of luring you in, then style and story really make no difference.



    But Creed's marketing and mythology are such an easy read that it becomes fun. When the life of leisure and affluence is sold to you over and over with each perfume, you come to realize that they're not even trying to sell you the image of a particular lifestyle, but the very notion of aspiration. As for Original Santal itself, a century late in the game Creed want to sell you not just a perfume but an empire.

    Reading between the lines of the name tells you a bit about this this perfume up front. The name and the date of release tell you the same thing twice--there won't be much real mysore sandalwood to it. "Santal": commercial sandalwood harvesting has been banned in India since the late 1990s and the dwindling supply available is too expensive for largescale commercial perfume use. As for "Original" I defer to the logic of Creed's Original Vetiver, which, not being a vetiver perfume, implies that Original Santal will not be a sandalwood fragrance.

    There are a few possibilities for Creed making a sandalwood fragrance today. 1) The Creeds have hoarded pre-ban sandalwood in the wine cellars of their ancestral castle. 2) They rely on synthetic sandalwood chemicals. 3) They recreate a sandalwood scent using other elements such as cedar, woody ambers, rosewood, lactones, etc.. 4) They make a fragrance that has no particular relationship to the scent of sandalwood. 5) When thay say Mysore, they mean Australia sandalwood. My money is on # 4, but 2, 3 and 5 have a ring of truth to them.

    Sandalwood oil has a number of olfactory qualities, all of which can be sensed in harmony but are clear enough to be singled out. Woodiness, sweetness, creaminess, tartness. Richness, really. OS takes the slightly wrong angle of each quality and mixes them into a murky, lingering perfume. It smells a bit like rum sick to me, but to read the reviews at rating sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, a lot of people enjoy it.

    I know I spend more time writing about Creed's talk than their perfume. And while I do believe that all marketing is equal, the differences being stylistic, Creed want to sell you a particular fiction phrased as history before they even start to sell you a perfume. Their implication of authenticity in a bottle should be questioned as closely as their perfume.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Pan Ame by Jean Patou

    The dry fruity floral is an interesting bird. It allows for a nuance in composition that is hard to convey in a syrupy fruity floral. Patouís Enjoy has a lovely crystal upper register, and Gucci II edp includes a dry, leafy/herbal aspect that gives it a beautifully full feeling within a narrow tonal range. Pan Ame's violet pear is interesting but not quite as balanced as the other two. I imagine Pan Ame (2001) was intended to be a ladylike or grown-up version of the kiddy fruity florals that were rampant at the time, and in this respect it succeeds.

    The upshot, unintentional unless Jean-Michel Duriez is a secret satirist, is that the flowers smell plastic and the fruit has an acetone bite. This is the spiritual ancestor of …tat Libreís Vierges et Torerosí vinyl floral. Wear it as you would V et T and itís surprisingly rewarding.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Girlfriend by Justin Bieber

    This perfume actually makes me like Justin Bieber. Who would have thought this young celeb would choose to balance out the fruity/grapey/berry-like concoction that was given to him with the polluted harbor note of Sťcrťtions Magnifiques? Brilliant!

    If SM is brackish spunk and white florals, Girlfriend is that spunk with kool-aid. The drydown arrives quickly and is pure grape-berry fruit punch, but the top and heartnotes are interesting. No joke. This stagnant marine note might have found a better home in Girlfriend than in SM.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Excess No. 28 by Tokyo Milk

    Excess is a woody, amber/patchouli that smells gritty/pretty, like sweet sawdust. It is slightly raspy and, while resinous-sweet, feels luxuriously dry. It has the tendency toward flatness that Iíve noticed in others from this line (Arsenic, Crushed) but if you look close, it has a narrow range of depth and dimension, like the finest sandpaper. This is amber that doesnít rise up and surround you. It is calm yet compelling up close and has restrained sillage. Hardly excessive, rather lovely.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Blonde by Versace

    Iíve railed against the soliflor before (see Fracas) but I must stand up for Blonde. I blind-bought the extrait and was surprised to find the closest thing to tuberose flower Iíve ever smelled out of a bottle. It perfectly captures a Philip Glass-like cycle of flower, bitterness, sweetness, rottenness. The extrait holds close to the skin after the first ten minutes, when it performs for the wearer and intimates only.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Mayotte / Mahora by Guerlain

    Despite the current and seemingly endless 1980s revival of cheap fashion for tweens to twenty-somethings, the 80s are gone. Thank god! Donít let that horrid decade haunt you! Still, if there were one thing that I could tease out of the 80s and bring to the present it would be polarizing perfumes. To the propagators of 1990s-styled apologetic perfumes, to the radiant Iso-E Super wearers, to the nanny perfume mob who would rid the world of fragrance (Watch out! Color is next, then oppressive fabric.) I say wear Poison! Wear Giorgio and Opium. Blast yourself with Lou Lou and walk in public in the light of day!

    Better still, try Mahora. 1980s in scale, 1970s in indulgent style, 1920s in complexity and sophistication, Mahora (2000) paid tribute to the decades that preceded it as it dived headfirst into the new millennium.

    From the spicy animalic start, through the creamy floral heart, to the woody-vanillic drydown, Mahora is as rich as they come. Using principles from classical perfumery, but seemingly new compositional tricks, Guerlain laid claim to the fairly unpopulated genre, the spicy-animalic resinous tropical woody floral. This perfume does draw attention to itself. So what? If you donít like it, donít wear it. Polarizing is great! Part of the aesthetics of perfumery, as in any art form, is that in addition to critical consideration, we should identify what we like and what we donít. How else can we proceed in what is both an artistic discussion and an exercise in pleasure?

    That said, I disagree with those who do not like Mahora and therefore say that it is a bad perfume. In addition to its volume and attention-seeking, it is calibrated, dissonant enough to hold oneís interest and shows textbook classical evolution. Mahora shouldnít have been discontinued, it should have been studied.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Kingdom by Alexander McQueen

    I pulled out my sample of the discontinued (?) Kingdom edp with the thought that Iíd single it out in my general complaint of the misuse of cumin to attempt to recreate animalic notes. When cumin is used to imply animalic notes, it typically doesnít work, smells fake and makes the perfume seem cheap. I canít say that Kingdom entirely escapes this trap. My complaint isnít that the cumin is strong, but that it doesnít actually recreate the animalic, and therefore, seen simply as a heavy spice note, is imbalanced and out of place. As I revisit Kingdom, I still find that a spurious note sinks the fragrance, but its not the huge cumin topnote. The real culprit is the mushy-musky drydown that seems like a thwarted attempt to emulate sandalwood.

    Francis Kurkjianís LumiŤre Noire pour Homme made me rethink the use of cumin. It pairs a roasted cumin scent with rose and recreates the feel if not the exact scent of the rose chypres of the 1970s-1980s. Kingdom reads more as an oriental than a nouvelle chypre, but both show that cumin is more effective as a patchouli adjunct than as a castoreum/civet/musk parallel.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Crushed No. 32 by Tokyo Milk

    Crushed is a bright, pretty, green, grassy jasmine demi-soliflor. Itís delish and itís balanced. It has a buoyant sweetness that the cloying fruity-florals of the world should emulate. The name says it all. It smells like a handful of springtime grass, stems and flowers rubbed together in your hands and sniffed.

    It smells fantastic, but is it a perfume? I love to smell it out of the bottle and even on my skin, but I find I never wear it. It captures my difficulty with the three Tokyomilk Dark series Iíve tried (Excess, Arsenic and Crushed). Crushed is effectively a base, closer to a scent than a fragrance. I wouldnít complain if I smelled this on someone else, but I prefer to wear a true perfume. That said, Crushed, with its inherent Spring briskness, would be a great alternative for any man who wears a fragrance with ďfreshĒ or ďsportĒ in its name.

    30th November, 2012

    rating


    Arsenic No. 17 by Tokyo Milk

    Iíve been trying a few of the Tokyo Milk Dark collection, and while theyíre deft and smell nice, I canít shake the feeling that they lack dimension. Arsenic captures this impression. It is an interesting and successful culmination of disparate notes that really does mimic the medicinal/poisonous scent of absinthe, one of its listed notes. It moves from an effervescent top notes that suggests aldehydes, to a grainy, woody heart dusted with powdered cardamom.

    Although it shows evolution over a wearing, Arsenic feels two-dimensional from top to base. It suggests that itís built for a generally nonperfume-wearing Anthropologie customer who finds in it a scent that doesnít smell like her notion of ďperfumeĒ and likes it. If introducing fragrance to someone who doesnít otherwise wear it smells this good, Iím all for it.

    30th November, 2012

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