Perfume Reviews

Reviews by jtd

Total Reviews: 503

Gold Man by Amouage

I had no notion until I smelled Gold Men that I'd formed an image (fantasy) in my mind of what the old-school animalic floral/orientals of the early 20th century were. On smelling Gold Men, I realized that I had, and that this was it.

Sensational, huge powdery animalic fragrance. Now I understand why these old perfumes were both powdery and animalic. If you do it right, it's brilliant.

As spectacular a ride as the top and heartnotes of this perfume are, the drydown is one of the best I've smelled. It's there, softer and quieter than the topnotes, but it remains fully-fleshed and complete. The drydown isn't just a ghost of the heartnotes.

Gold Men is powerful and distinctive. Not for shrinking violets, not for somebody who doesn't want to be identified for his scent. Certainly not for someone who wants to read as contemporary in a pop or trendy sense. Gold Men is more a leader than a follower in this respect. It is one of a very few fragrances that I could wear forever and be utterly happy.
15th September, 2011 (last edited: 22nd September, 2011)

Diva by Ungaro

I owe Diva a bit of an apology. It's a heavy rose chypre, an era-specific genre (70s-80s) that I love. In the past I've noted that I like some of Diva's cohorts more than Diva. (Paloma, Knowing, Scherrer, La Perla.) I've tended to point to what I find 'off' in Diva. Too much honey sweetness, not enough green, a bit soft for a chypre.

Well, on reflection, I was wrong. When I see Diva as a hybrid rose chypre/oriental, it comes beautifully into focus. What I used to see as a simple honey sweetness I now recognize as a wonderfully sweet, waxy-honeycomb scent that connects the heartnotes to the spicy amber drydown in a rather lavishly paced transition. I used to want more brash green with more patchouli and moss in the drydown. What was wrong with me? While there is an identifiably chypric drydown, the amber emphasis is both comfortable and stirring.

A few other bits make Diva's evolution so interesting to keep tuning into. Right from the top there is an identifiable rose, but it is woody rather than green or dewy or brightly 'floral.' It calls to mind both rose and rosewood. And there's a slightly acerbic note that balances the honey and ties it to the dry spiciness that lasts through the entirety of Diva's drydown. Also, while I still hold that Diva is a rose chypre, there is an indolic note that suggests white flowers and keeps the rose from reading as strictly dark as in Scherrer or La Perla.
15th September, 2011

Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue by Bond No. 9

Andy Warhol Lexington Ave ostensibly has as its 'topic' the fact that Warhol used to illustrate shoes. (No, really.)

The perfume has a confused start and deflates quickly into an off-putting musky-gourmand lingering finish. Without any particular attention to either form or concept, the producer must simply have hoped that somebody out there would think it smells nice. That's not enough for me, especially at this price.

As to how many people might have found the fragrance appealing, I'll break form and list notes, because they're odd. Choamsky-colorless-green-ideas odd. Fennel, Blue Cypress, Pink Peony, Crème Brulée, Pimento Berry, Iris, Patchouli. Compositionally the fragrance doesn't attempt to go anywhere in particular and it doesn't use genre, style or notes toward any aesthetic end.

It's hard to glean a sense of purpose from the fragrance. I have no idea what to make of it.
09th September, 2011 (last edited: 06th June, 2017)
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Silver Bond / Andy Warhol Silver Factory by Bond No. 9

Does anybody else see Bond, as a marketing product, as Creed with a different fetish? Both rely on a symbolism of affluence and privilege. Creed's ancestor worship, prestige and mythology-as-history give the air of a quality that only pedigree can grant. Bond relies on neighborhood chic. The brand deals the currency of privilege and exclusivity of NYC real estate in the same manner that Creed manages lineage. (Please just give me one crack in the image of either. Offal Millesime from some disavowed pervy great uncle or Bond's Gowanus Canal Superfund.)

I'm cynical about schtick, and Bond's is ridiculous. But Andy Warhol Silver Factory is a sensational take on the incense/floral. The floral note centers on a beautifully high-pitched iris, and the incense is resinous, not at all smoky, and wonderfully sharp. This doesn't smell like church and it doesn't simply smell like olibanum oil. The shiny metallic note (silver, get it?) is the common link between the iris and the incense.

I find AWSF quite unlike the other incense perfumes of the mid-2000s, an era that gave us some gorgeous incenses. l'Artisan's Timbuktu is a deconstruction/rebuild of incense with woods and fruit. CDG's Avignon and Heeley's Cardinal riffed on the smoky church. Jubilation XXV emphasized frankincense's voluptuousness. I find AWSF closest in approach, though not outcome to CDG 2 Man. Each takes a particular aspect of incense, CDG's smoke and flame, AWSF's metallic chill, and builds a portrait. AWSF also smartly refers to a direct predecessor, taking Bond's Chinatown's cool resinous incense base as a leaping-off point. Which leads me to my ubiquitous fandom of Aurélien Guichard, author of both Chinatown & AWSF. This guy makes some gorgeous perfumes.

But back to Bond as a line. I spent more on Chinatown than I have on any other single perfume. These two perfumes warrant high price points, but the other 10-12 Bond's I've sniffed don't. Not by a long shot.
09th September, 2011 (last edited: 10th September, 2011)

Nuits de NoHo by Bond No. 9

Were somebody to describe the strategy that appears to have lead to this perfume, you'd stop them midway and tell them it won't work.

Take something that is defined by its volume, its dissonance, its creativity, its unabashed sense of purpose. In this case, Angel. Take the edges off the deliberately juxtaposed notes, remove all creative intent along with much of the idiosyncracy, fear that you might offend a delicate sensibility. Oh, yeah, keep just one thing: the volume. NdN crystalizes the problem of derivation among the post-Angels. It seeks to repeat Angel's success by throwing cotton candy and flowers at us. It supposes that by copying a few notes, it is like Angel, but by being risk-averse, it becomes the antithesis of Angel. Cheap yet expensive is the only juxtaposition that NdN poses.
09th September, 2011

Erolfa by Creed

I don't know the Creed line very well. I've been sampling them fairly randomly lately. Scorecard: Really like Irisia (bought it.) Had to try Love in White after having read Luca Turin's review. (More to follow.) Original Vetiver, Himalaya and now Erolfa. These three are all of a piece for me. They're quite similar in overall shape and could easliy have been three submissions to the same client brief requesting a fresh men's scent of the broad mid 90s - mid 2000s style. You know, easily recognizable as a fresh, fruity, 'ozonic' masculine (ie. generic) but with its own name and a narrative/description/fantasy that gives the appearance of comparative distinction (ie. mine's better than yours.) Here is the disjointed dance of the contempo-masculine. A blanket, clannish similarity balanced with the appearance (but not the fact) of distinctiveness.

So, Erolfa. Melony, buzzy. Aquatic and ozonic (two words that, so far as I can tell, have no intrinsic meaning in fragrance, but have gained descriptive value through repitition.) Not much different, therefore not much better or worse than many others of its time.

There. I've offended the Creed fans. Now, to Luca Turin. Erolfa could just as easily have been a response to the client brief that gave us Beyond Paradise for Men. They are remarkably similar, varying in exactly the contempo-masculine manner described above. To Creed's credit, Erolfa came only four years after its step-uncle Cool Water, but twelve before BP for Men.
09th September, 2011

Carillon Pour Un Ange by Tauer

Carillon pour un Ange hits me like an olfactory epiphany. It is utterly captivating, ravishing. I can't stop taking long, slow inspirations of it.

There are the notes, the muguet (earthy, oily, creamy, strangely autumnal) so distinct from the light, pretty muguets I've smelled before. The muguet is the lead-in to the leather, the fresh, piercing green, and the vaguely composted forest brown. But it's really the tones, not the notes. I get a strong musical sense of a precise, high-pitched harmony and a series of bass chords that obviate the need for a middle range. The high and the low pitches create a particular, perfect balance.

Artists' quotes for press releases, like after-show discussion with directors/choreographers/composers make me want to bolt for the exit. Show me your work, don't try to talk me into it. Refreshingly different, Andy Tauer's humble statements to the effect of, 'This my tribute to the lily of the valley. I hope you'll dig it' (my paraphrase) makes me appreciate his work all the more.

Artistically significant and breath-takingly beautiful. From my experience of the arts, not a common enough occurrence.
08th September, 2011 (last edited: 05th April, 2012)

Ferré by Gianfranco Ferré

Smelling Ferré is like visualizing imaginary pale purple ribbons trailing from your wrists as you carry this scent into the world. It finds the common angle of iris, woods, berries, aldehydes, musks. It shows a textbook evolution with the tight yet extravagant range of its topnotes moving to a compressed woody-floral drydown with a surprising resemblance of construction, if not scent, to the drydown of Patou's 1000. Throughout the evolution from top to base, Ferré continues to suggest its purple hue, but because of its tight focus feels like a stripe rather than a large swath of color.

For those who love the pretty-boy aspect of Dior Homme, Ferré is one assured step further in that direction.
08th September, 2011 (last edited: 24th September, 2011)

Champs-Elysées by Guerlain

Starts off with competing notes of a shallow but sharp sweetness and an insecticide-floral. They merge for a bit, then the insecticide (which I'd hoped would win) gives way to a sweet, bland floral. It's blaring, though. It's like sitting near a very loud conversation in a language you don't understand. You can't escape the volume, but you haven't the least idea what's actually going on. It comes at you from every angle, but isn't intriguing. While it hits a number of strong tones, sweet, floral, bright (fluorescent) metallic, it becomes tiresome very quickly.

I find CE very off-putting, but I must admit that this type of perfume isn't my bag and I have trouble here distinguishing between what doesn't appeal to me and what is in fact unsuccessful overall. Cautious neutral rating.
08th September, 2011 (last edited: 24th September, 2011)

1000 by Jean Patou

I've tried the EDP of 1000 a couple of times, and I always love the dark topnotes, but it's the EDT that I love from start to finish. There is a creaminess to the EDP that is less distinctive than the sharpness of the EDT. This keenness binds the florals and woods tightly. The layers, really more floral than woody at the start, are densely arranged, but evenly organized. Like the crisp pages of a brand new hardcover book the first time you thumb through it.

There's just enough civet, just enough indole. They don't take the lead, they modulate the tone of the florals. They're just present enough to add complexity while not standing out as identifiably discrete notes. From the opening through drydown, 1000 is utterly coherent, and despite others' characterizations of old-school, old lady perfumery, I find it mysterious. I think the, Is it a floral? Is it a chypre? question 40 years later reflects its complexity and wonderfully baffling personality.

1000 is more upright than uptight, more toned than starched. Some perfumes shout, some whisper seductively. 1000 simply speaks very clearly and intends to be heard whether it is fully understood or not.
08th September, 2011 (last edited: 24th September, 2011)

Patrick by Fragrances of Ireland

I love angular fougères. I've written that so many times on basenotes it feels like a mantra. If anyone is still producing encyclopedias in hard-bound book form (do they still exist?) the entry for fougère should have a scratch-and-sniff of Patrick. Others here on Basenotes have described it better than I can, so I'll just say that it's remarkably concise yet expressive. It so perfectly captures the soapiness, that defining attribute of the best fougères. It is exuberant yet simple, soapy yet earthy. These dualities make it not just interesting, but conversational.

The coumarin/lavender/musk balance is flawless, but Patrick, for all its simplicity and directness makes me marvel at the slow sleight of hand that takes place. The hay-like, singing fougère moves from barbershop about 2 paces into the realm of the green chypre. Spectacular transition! The coumarin, initially so closely held to the lavender and musk, joins hands with the moss, and turns around to look at you with a laughing smile.

Another spectacular, underestimated fragrance I discovered in the "Unsung Treasures" forum. Sensationally inexpensive, potent, long-lasting and easy to wear as an everyday fragrance.
08th September, 2011 (last edited: 11th September, 2011)

Gelsomini di Capri by Carthusia

I expected this to be a 'pretty' fragrance. Loads of floral elements. A slight shift, I find it quite handsome. The florals are vaguely high-pitched (jasmine, orange blossom, ylang-ylang) in the top-notes, but are all are all reigned-in by a leading geranium note. Into the heart, there's a good bit of a dirty, sweaty feel, but this point seems more like an inflection of the floral, and not stand-alone skanky.

Wonderfully, the sweetness fades in the heart, and a rather earthy, though not vulgar, floral tone (again, lots of the geranium still in play) carries the day. It's a very outdoorsy floral feel, more like a garden than a bouquet, and the underbelly notes (indoles, a sweaty feel) grow without ever becoming overwhelming. While not a chypre, Gelsomini becomes a down-to-earth scent, finding a well-worn feel similar in tone to the green/leather chypres.
08th September, 2011

Elixir des Merveilles by Hermès

Elixir des Merveilles is an almost, almost, not-quite. How fun that Hermès, with its emphasis on luxury, taste and class distinction, the first step to which is clear identifiability to those who desire them, would make such a neither/nor fragrance. Orange peel, but not edible (almost gourmand.) Chewy, resinous woodiness (almost oriental.) A tonka basenote that takes the edge off the sweetness (not quite fougère.)

There is a density, a viscosity that suggests something highly caloric, but I think is more of an illusion of orange over a dense peru balsam, incense and a cedar-like sandlewood. (Assumedly Australian sandlewood. If so, a wonderful use of what has been consdered the poor cousin to the depleted mysore sandlewood.)

The risk is that Elixir might read as indistinct. The upshot is that it suggests an ambiguity that can be very alluring, and as most men tend to steer clear of ambiguity in fragrance, perhaps Elixir would make a great men's fragrance.
08th September, 2011
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L'Instant de Guerlain by Guerlain

As the name implies, tutti frutti refers to a dessert of a mix of fruits. A compote, an ice cream or the like made of various fruits where the fruit flavors enhance each other. Tutti frutti in the language of commercial flavor production has also come to mean one particular flavor: bubblegum. L'Instant, while well-composed and well-behaved is a tutti flori in the manner of the latter tutti frutti. L'Instant isn't exactly bland, just indistinct. It's a blur of the sultry floral set: lily, magnolia, ylang-ylang and others, forming a sort of pan-tropical note that flattens out when bolstered by a matter of course vanilla and musk.

Less an idealized abstract floral, or a well-matched bouquet; more an actually loud, but conceptually hazy floral flavor. Lack of evolution over time only exacerbates the problem.
08th September, 2011

Terre de Bois by Miller Harris

If you started an equilateral triangle with Chanel Pour Monsieur and Comme des Garcons Vettiveru, the third point would be Terre de Bois. It's a scratchy, woody take on the eau de cologne. The blustery, citric-sage start is a bit misleading. Terre de Bois goes quiet very quickly, but can be sensed up close for hours. The name nails it though. There's the feel of soil from the patchouli and the woody tone of the vetiver. The herbs enhance both, and the feel is specific; not leafy, not grassy, not mossy. Just dirt and trees.

TdB smells 'natural' in that all of its parts are recognizably botanical, but it has a very balanced use of its elements. Nothing vague or blurred.

At a glance, TdB is autumnal and handsome. I bet it'd be wonderful against type in a frilly-pretty springtime setting.
30th August, 2011 (last edited: 08th September, 2011)

Maharanih by Nicolaï

The basic sketch of this perfume (orange, lavender, and amber) could be steered in a number of directions. Those elements would suggest harmony to me. But then again I'm not Patricia de Nicolai. Maharanih is all about angles and contrasts. It's loud and actually rather rough. The contrasts are not so much intriguing as unresolved. The notes struggle against one another and never enhance each other.

The ongoing conflict means there's not a lot of development over the course of Maharanih. Loud and constant. Unfortunately, this gives Maharanih more the feel of a parfum d'ambiance than something you'd want to wear.

I find there's something similar both in tone and in composition between Maharanih and de Nocolai's Patchouli Homme. Their effect is that they sit on you, not that you wear them. I've never quite been able to wear them comfortably, though I've worn each a good number of times.
30th August, 2011 (last edited: 08th September, 2011)

Patchouli Précieux / Patchouli Antique by Les Néréides

Vanilla and musk tell you exactly the tone Patchouli Antique means to strike. In its favor, it's lovely and smooth, emphasizing the rich, powdery-dusty side of patchouli. The downside for us perfume thrill-seekers is that from the first sniff I felt that I knew exactly where PA was headed. And I was right. Still, if you just want to relax into your patch, PA does the trick.
30th August, 2011 (last edited: 31st August, 2011)

Cool Water by Davidoff

Somehow I managed between 1988 and about 2006 not to have to smell Cool Water. I have managed to smell the generations of clones and wanna-be's since, and was just waiting to hate Cool Water. But you know what? This stuff is copied for a reason. It's really spectacular.

I'm in the enviable position Luca Turin refers to in The Guide. I don't have to associate this with half the male population of the 80s-90s. Smelling CW in this context is a great lesson in perfume history. If a new aroma technology is introduced with intelligence and artistry, it changes the status quo. I know that compositionally CW is a contemporary variation on the fougere, but qualitatively I think it's something distinct. This, followed by a slew of copy-cats, means a whole new genre. And I guess like the original Chypre and Fougere Royale, the first can remain the best.
30th August, 2011

Eau du Soir by Sisley

One of the shinier green chypres. Heavier on the bergamot part of the chypre equation than the moss, Eau du Soir simply dazzles in the top notes. It stays true to its first impression, though, and remains brilliant through the heartnotes. By this point, most green chypres are either heading toward leather or a dusky sort of glow. EdS manages to shine yet keep its complexity. There's a dry floral quality that smells a bit like gin. It's searing, sharp, gorgeous.  Here is where EdS balances the green chypre family resemblance and its own distinctiveness. 

I've read that people find this somewhere in the powerful-to-overpowering range in terms of both broadcast and tenacity. Maybe so, but this is one of those potent fragrances that begs to be worn brashly. 

Hideous bottle, but don't let that stop you. 
30th August, 2011

Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens

As beastly as most others find MKK, I think it's just adorable. Cute, really.
30th August, 2011

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme by Guerlain

l'Instant pour Homme feels pulled in a few too many directions for me. It's a fresh, oriental, woody, gourmand, green citrus. It seems built to try to please everyone just a bit. It's warm and it's cool. It's dry and it's sweet. It seems like it's intended to be discrete, but with its finger in so many pies just seems non-committal to me.

l'Instant's mix of mild gourmand elements on top of woods, citrus and the rest of the kitchen sink is the equivalent to my nose of 'a bad taste in my mouth.' I tried to like this one for quite a while, but it never took.
29th August, 2011 (last edited: 30th August, 2011)

Flora Bella by Lalique

My neutral rating of Flora Bella is not a true neutral. I both like it and can't stand it. The drydown of a light dose of FB is a metallic, Forbidden Planet flower---from the tropics of Altair. Enticingly alien in a 1950s, sci-fi modernist sort of way. More metal and form than flower.

On the downside, every moment until the drydown is tinged with cheap pina colada mix and an air-freshener style caricature of a pan-tropical floral note. Smother that in fabric softener and you have an overview of Flora Bella.
29th August, 2011

Habanita by Molinard

I can't really read Habanita. The synergy that others describe doesn't happen for me. I actually search for a bit of dissonance in a perfume. It lends character, a bit of mystery. Maybe just gives it a laugh. Even outright antagonism can be effective (see the floral leather genre.)

Habanita has neither synergy, as in the fougere's coumarin and lavender accord, nor the stagey acrimony of Angel, for instance. It straddles an uncomfortable, tangled territory between leaden and powdery.
28th August, 2011 (last edited: 30th August, 2011)

Dior Homme by Christian Dior

The term 'pretty boy' is often intended as an insult. An aspersion, really, hurled from one straight man at another. Among us homos, though, the term isn't an affront.

Dior Homme is a pretty boy. Exceptionally so, in fact. Lord knows how this managed to see the light of day as a designer masculine.

To you straight men who wear it, well done. I'm not being facetious here. Smart move to wear a pretty fragrance. It can work on a straight man in a number of ways. It can play against type. It can announce the security of your ego. It can tell the world that aesthetics matter to you.

Not all perfumes are pretty, nor should they be. But let's admit it. Dior Homme is.
28th August, 2011

Beyond Paradise for Men by Estée Lauder

Equally well-composed and unappealing. Same issue I have with the original Beyond Paradise, but I'm equally less conflicted and less interested.
28th August, 2011

Kiss Me Tender by Nicolaï

Just tried this one today while at LuckyScent. It's lovely and smells a bit like a marzipan pastry. Despite the food-description and sweetness, it doesn't read like any other gourmand fragrances I can think of. Something balances out the food element. I can't put my finger on it yet, but it really is haunting. I suppose that the heliotropin is similar enough to almond that it rings some bells, but different enough that it doesn’t actually read as a confection. Even though as it dries down, the sweetness gets heavier, if you smelled this in a crowd, you'd definitely want to trace it to its source.
27th August, 2011 (last edited: 23rd February, 2018)

Shalimar Parfum Initial by Guerlain

I think Guerlain is getting smarter about its ‘younger’ entries into what is essentially a house composed of classics. I’m not saying that the young Insolence buyer will necessarily move onto L’Heuere Bleu in later years, but there is a conceptual continuity between the two fragrances. With both Insolence and Shalimar Parfum Initial, Guerlain is giving those new to the house a primer on the catalogue of over a century of classics. I even appreciate My Insolence (apparently critically panned) as a step in this direction. (Now, Guerlain, please rethink the need for the Aqua Allegorias.)

I think Shalimar Parfum Initial ties to the classics in a tidy fashion. It seems less a flanker than a contemporary reinterpretation not of Shalimar specifically, but of the principals of classic Guerlain perfumery. It is a first step for those new to Guerlain toward Guerlain’s long-standing classics, whether Shalimar, Aprée L’ondée or Mitsouko, or even Habit Rouge or Vetiver for that matter. A flanker (eg. Shalimar eau Legère, Shalimar Light, Shalimar Ode a Vanille…) must hold closely to the form or intent of its eponymous original. Parfum Initial is a guide, a first step in the direction of the Guerlain sensibility.

Initial definitely has a different vanilla than would appeal to the nose acclimated by exposure the gourmands of the past 15 years. It’s also more floral than Shalimar. So, it’s sweeter both literally and figuratively. But it still has a growly start and a complexity noticeable at all points, albeit less so during a fairly expectable musky-woody drydown. The basenotes are where Initial veers away most from Shalimar’s still-rumbling, smoky shadow of a drydown. Initial’s basenotes are a sweet, musky woody affair of less interest than the top and heart. It doesn’t simply peter out accidentally or through cheapness of formula, though. I find it true to its concept and intent, and a woody, merely pleasant drydown is where the cohort Guerlain is aiming to court is comfortable.

Chant d’Aromes was a blatant attempt to inculcate a younger, perhaps not so bourgoise client to the Guerlain world. Initial might be able to follow that example. Initial is sold in Sephora. It’s sold in mall department stores. I just saw it in Bloomingdales sitting between Shalimar (similar bottle) and Insolence (similar pink color.) Smart if you ask me.

Also, I didn’t mention this earlier, but I like Shalimar Parfum Initial. I don’t love it, but I think it’s a very smart move to support the continuation of the Guerlain classics in perpetuity that we tend to rave about. I’d be happy to see it succeed, just as I have Insolence and even the maligned My Insolence.

I just read Octavian Coifan’s review of Initial at 1000 fragrances, and we disagree entirely on both the fragrance and Guerlain’s strategy of creating it. Please read his review. (I’ve been reading him lately and learning a lot.) He has a wonderfully precise and yet far-reaching perspective.
27th August, 2011 (last edited: 28th August, 2011)

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

I first tried Terre d’Hermès in the eau de toilette concentration. It is radiant in the contemporary manner, not forceful, but persistent. The eau de toilette’s slightly sour edge gives the impression of two voices singing together, one sharp and one flat. The notes don’t balance each other and they don’t cancel each other out. They sit uneasily next to each other.

Terre d’Hermès is linear, but has a single, wide accord that seems to surround you. It is radiant like many other contemporary linear masculines (a famously heavy percentage of Iso-E Super), but it seems to encompass you rather than emanate from you. The parfum is smoother and differently calibrated than the edt. It cushions the tartness of the edt, making it less curdled than tart. There is nothing superfluous, yet there’s no feeling of starkness.

The artistry, consideration and likely enormous amount of editing that went into the making of Terre d’Hermès are evident. Apply any binary set of descriptors to Terre d’Hermès and you’ll find it sits dead center, equidistant from the poles. I imagine an inordinate amount of effort went into placing Terre d’Hermès smack in the middle of the road. It suggests nothing. It refers to nothing. It asks nothing. It is devoid of character.

Forget Prada. The Devil wears Hermès.
19th August, 2011 (last edited: 05th August, 2016)

Womanity by Thierry Mugler

Nice start: candied citrus. Nothing new, a sort of candied grapefruit (Caviar? Spare me.) After the brief opening, Womanity cycles through a vague floral mid-top note to a sweet but thin oriental, and eventually acquires its only element of interest: a woody, milky fig leaf. (The fig leaf is a cute metaphorical joke. I'll give Mugler that. A fig leaf is intended to hide your private parts. Remember the shape of a fig leaf, though, and consider just whose parts. Hint: not womanity's.) This fig leaf folds nicely into the oriental heart, but soon fades and Womanity hits the wall. It stops at a hackneyed, sweet woody tone and goes no further. Futuristic? Otherworldy? No. Commonplace? Yes. Suburban in its heart of hearts? Yes.

There is a strong sense of entropy and dissolution to the Mugler line:

• Angel (avenging angel)
• Innocent (happy angel)
• Angel Garden of Stars (flood of flankers)
• Alien (shrill, but conceptually a ‘pretty’ floral)
• Les Parfums [insert random word] (might be something interesting in here, but who’s going to dig through 13 simultaneously released flankers?)
• Les Miroirs (see above, change 13 to 5)
• Womanity (the fragrance aimed at the woman who was the girl who wore fruity-
floral/cotton candy perfumes 10 years ago)

What’s next, Angel Adolescent in another overly-styled bottle simply filled with sugar-water?
19th August, 2011 (last edited: 05th April, 2012)

Égoïste / L'Égoïste by Chanel

A nice woody-fruity fragrance will be at least somewhat attractive to 75% of those who smell it. It is undemanding and hits the right buttons. It’s like a blooming flower in this respect. Who actively dislikes jasmine or rose? Egoiste uses this moderate prettiness to gear up to striking beauty.

Egoiste is a pseudo-oriental that beat the Lutens ‘new oriental’ Feminite du Bois to the fruity/cedary punch, but replaced restraint with largesse. Where you might admire FdB with a “well done” you just want to ooch Egoiste’s cheeks squealing “you are TOO cute!” FdB has a growing harmony that is a function of its radiance. Egoiste is a big diva-like melody with built-in backup singers.

Egoiste composes an accord that hits all the right tones we love about sandlewood---vanillic, creamy, fruity-sweet, at once rounded and sharp. I find the actual woodiness, though, to be a cedar, rosewood and musk blend of perfect pitch paired with vanilla and who knows what else. I think Egoiste has survived since the 1980s fully intact, despite the sandlewood drought, because it emulates sandlewood the way Guerlain’s Nahema calls to mind a rose: by employing a superb chemical geometry to create an olfactory allusion. The herbal touch completes the picture and creates a medicinal tone that keeps the sweet creaminess from crossing the line to toothaching.

Egoiste makes me wonder (other than exceptions such as Dior Homme and Guerlains’s Heritage) why designer men’s fragrances don’t strive for beauty instead of tolerating the low expectation of skimpy, vernacular handsomeness as a goal.
19th August, 2011 (last edited: 28th September, 2011)