Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Redbeard

Total Reviews: 308

Cacharel pour L'Homme by Cacharel

This is serious stuff...starts out leathery with sweet floral undertones, maybe geranium? It's a bit like Aramis but with more foliage and less musk. It soon turns really dirty and earthy, like a darker Yatagan, with lots of pine sap...very Paul Bunyan outdoorsy. After a while, though, things start to get musty and even rubbery, like the smell of an engine that's been running hot, or insulation on hot wires. Somehow this component gives it a coolness that complements what would otherwise be a purely wintery scent, but it also leaves a medicinal edge that I don't like. Granted I'm not the biggest leather scent fan, but I tried Parfum d'Habit a few years ago and was much more impressed in terms of both realism and easy wearability.
11th August, 2014

Aqua Quorum by Antonio Puig

I actually had meant to buy Quorum Silver, which I may still try to get my hands on, but this stuff is at least serviceable. It smells cheap but not bad. It's an OK sweet aquatic, sort of reminding me of Polo Blue but with more sweet, floral top notes rather than the dry cucumber. It has a moderate amount of the fruity (apple?) component of Eternity or the old Nautica Competition, and initially this gets more intense as it progresses. The fruitiness almost reminds me of the shampoo-like components of Grabazzi or Horizon, which is a minor annoyance, but I don't find it to stick out as obtrusively as in those two. It's a bit metallic, but not as much as a lot of sweet aquatics or herbals/aromatics on the men's market. It ends up quite a bit soapier at the end, which I'm OK with, and keeps up its strength pretty well.
11th August, 2014

Iceberg Twice Homme by Iceberg

I had heard of this being a good alternative to the typical genres of summer scents. The opening is kind of a strange springtime floral, with a bit of mint and honey. For a while there's a little natural dustiness, and it almost reminds me of chamomile tea, but then powderiness creeps in. It has some of the brisk alpine meadow aspect of Geir, and even though it isn't as sweet or fruity, it's either too synthetic or has a trace of plant decay that I don't like. Maybe Himalaya or Paco XS are better comparisons. Later on, there's a slightest hint of cherry, though not enough to bother me, but then also a certain waxiness which seems strangely inconsistent with the top notes. I feel like it doesn't know what it's trying to accomplish, and consequently I have a hard time placing it into a role on the scent spectrum of my collection. You might just be better off with XS.
08th August, 2014 (last edited: 09th August, 2014)
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parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Avignon by Comme des Garçons

First up, let me preface this by saying I've never smelled catholic church incense in my life, so I'm not approaching this stuff as the scent of a known object. It starts out rather warm and resinously sweet, though I don't feel like the underlying wood note is that sweet on its own. Even though I don't visualize any particular thing, I feel like the scent is among the more realistic of the series. It's more ambery, however, and maybe even vanillic, which for me means that it has more potential to get tiringly sweet as it moves along. The spices have a hard time cutting through that kind of sweetness. Still, it's good, maybe just a bit richer and higher-pitched than I'd like. It's just a tad christmasy-smelling and doesn't captivate me like some of the others. Because it's a bit closer than the others to being a typical ambery masculine oriental, it seems more wearable. I'd wear it in place of Heritage (very similar!) or maybe PdN New York. Interesting how it kind of pulled me back from the realm of thematic fragrances into the mainstream, just as I'm done reviewing this series.
14th May, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Kyoto by Comme des Garçons

This is the one that I had been least looking forward to among the series. I'm not sure what it's missing that the others aren't, but it just doesn't speak to me. The first minute or so is a very bracing fresh wood aroma, but it fairly quickly starts to get older and mustier. For a while, I picture the ancient heavy wooden doors of a buddhist temple high in the mountains, but even that starts to decay into disrepair. After that, it becomes medicinal, like the wood is rotting into dirt rather than being smoky, and I think it's weaker than the others. (Strange, because I remembered it being fairly strong and acridly smoky!) It's not all that bad, but it's just so uninteresting after smelling CdG do the smoke/wood genre a hundred different ways, because I know how good they are at differentiating one from another. It is more organic than the others because of the living dirt/compost aspect, and it does this much less synthetically than other wet, decaying forest floor scents I know (He Wood and its flankers!). But finally by the end, a burning plastic vibe starts to appear, and that really puts the nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. Thumbs down because the others set the bar so high.
14th May, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Zagorsk by Comme des Garçons

Boy, tough break for Zagorsk considering how much everyone loves the other four! It's definitely got the deep, dark pine forest going on right from the first whiff...makes me think of Polo almost. I find it to be a very natural, organic confer scent, even after it moves indoors, into the log cabin, losing some of the brisk coldness after a minute or two. This is what life smelled like in remote Hudson Bay Company forts in the wilds of 18th century Canada, pipe tobacco and all. It's slowly getting sweeter, with a single sweet note, almost like grassy vanilla, that stands out like the spring shoots reaching up through the last of the snow in March. But after the woods from the top notes dissipate more, this grassy vanilla note does get a bit one-dimensional, almost like a He Wood flanker. The dynamic, fresh-hewn log cabin smell ages a few hundred years to leave that sweeter but heavily-worn remnant that you smell when you visit that same old fort today, on a tour at a national park. If you took all the gourmand elements out of Zirh Corduroy, or maybe even out of Rocabar, you'd be left with something like this. It's much less "my thing" than some of the others in the series, but I'll still give it a thumbs up because I think it's well-balanced for the sweet antique wood genre.
14th May, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Jaisalmer by Comme des Garçons

The first time around, I found this to be the best balanced, and least of an "outlier" among the incense series. (Hopefully that doesn't mean boring). It's more of a straightforward, sweet wood in the top notes, with just a hint of spice to begin with, but that will grow. Cinnamon like in Maharadjah starts to appear pretty quickly, and gets very strong but doesn't completely overshadow the initial wood note, something that I find happens too often in spicy wood scents. The spices here are very "warm", or even hot, but it's not spicy in terms of burning or being peppery. It has the garam masala spice blend of chai tea, but in spite of the "incense" label, it blends them almost solely with wood, not with smoke. I honestly prefer this, when I consider how Tea for Two is almost ruined for me by too much smokiness. Later the ardent fire of the spices cools down, and the smooth, middle-of-the-road sweet wood returns, and it ends up resembling Sequoia somewhat, but with a more polished rather than raw wood aspect. There's still enough creamy sandalwood along with that slight crayon-waxiness to show that it's Indian-inspired, but like Ouarzazate it's not over-the-top, not trying too hard to be exotic. Another balanced, sophisticated winner from the Incense series!
14th May, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Ouarzazate by Comme des Garçons

I've been eager to review this one because I remember it being different enough from the other four to treat it like its own entity. The first time I tried it, it was like no other fragrance I'd ever experienced, like ethereal jasmine on top of wood. It's very tea-like and otherworldly right from the start...the top notes are a quiet, moderately sweet blend of flowery black tea and nicely grained wood, but not resinous, exotic wood. It's very simple, but in a comforting way, not a harsh or minimalist way. I see an image of plainly finished but contemporary furniture and sleek tableware in an elegant home, and they're made of solid conventional wood, with a non-edgy, semi-asian-inspired design. The scent has just a hint of something that reminds me of C. Howard's violet candies, but not enough to bother me like some violet notes. I only start to notice the jasmine (lotus?) in the residue on the tip of my nose after sniffing my sample. It's there, not as strong as I remember, but getting stronger throughout the mid notes. Oddly enough, the wood actually seems to fade out and the florals to fade in. I'm not sure if you could officially call it a masculine floral, but after trying so many of those that I didn't like, this is really something that I could get lost in and also wear comfortably in the real world. I kind of wish it were stronger for how expensive it is, but the translucency, balance and restraint are just outstanding; it can't possibly be so simple and yet so perfect.
14th May, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 2 Red: Sequoia by Comme des Garçons

I'm getting a lot of booze in the top notes of this one, like a straight, peaty scotch just for a minute or two. Soon the actual notes arrive, and initially it's smooth, sweet wood. Not the usual woods + vanilla masculine oriental type, and not the CdG harsh, dry woods with a blast of smoke, but somewhere nicely in the middle. There's just enough resinous sap to remind you of a real conifer tree, but it's not like some scents where a bully at summer camp shoves your face into the side of a pine tree. Unless I'm fatigued from too much reviewing, there's surprisingly little here. It's not that strong, but it doesn't need to be because it's just a big tree, not a stick of incense burning in a monastery that demands your full spiritual contemplation. There's some sweetness, but not too much; it's still well within the territory of mainstream masculine wood scents, like Rocabar decided to lay off the sugary christmas cookies. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that there are a lot of things that Sequoia *isn't*, because it's just a pretty tree in the woods. The simplicity of sweet wood is somewhat of a relief before I try and conquer their Incense series, and now I understand why this was put in the Red series: because like Palisander, it's about quiet, happy warmth.
04th April, 2013

Comme des Garçons 2 Man by Comme des Garçons

To me, this starts out very similar to Gucci Pour Homme, as everyone suggests, but much quieter. It's not as strong, but the top notes are smoother, with less cumin and sweat, probably because it has less cedar and more of a variety of exotic woods. It's also less sweet, so altogether more realistic so far. It starts to get more resinous and piney, not to mention stronger, and I agree that it's smoky without going overboard as some do (I haven't even gotten to their Incense series yet!). Later on, though, I start to find a funky acridness...maybe a bit too much of the campfire smoke is finally getting into the tent? Still, the base provides some smooth, sweet wood of the type I usually like. Regarding the question that people ask (whether to buy Gucci PH or CdG 2 Man), I think it's about a toss-up. Both are a tepid thumbs-up, though I'll give this one the edge for being more natural.

Overall, reviewing this scent for me is more an overture to understanding CdG than an analysis of one product. Since CdG seems to be the self-proclaimed master of this smoke/wood genre, I'm going to check out Palisander and Sequoia, revisit the Incense series, and then try some of their more recent similar scents, and really learn what aspects of smoky wood I like or don't like. I'm excited, but I already know that some of their scents are just too harsh and acrid for me.
04th April, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 2 Red: Palisander by Comme des Garçons

It's been a long time since I smelled this stuff, but I must say it was a real treat to revisit. The first thing I smell is a piercingly bright wood, cinnamony sweet but masculine, almost like Red Hots that were made with something that's very close to, but not quite, cinnamon. Soon, some florals wander in, and it transforms rather quickly into a more soapy, potpourri-like fragrance, a bit more feminine though still with the strong spiced (not spicy) wood component. It shares just a trace of the shampooey-ness that I find in things like Grabazzi, and is now what I would call legitimately unisex. It's as if Gendarme made a spicy soap fragrance to go with their line of green and floral soap fragrances. As it progresses further, I find it very hard to sense what's in the mix because it's so smooth and so well-blended; this is the point where other spice-centered fragrances might get tiringly sharp and insistent. It gets a bit weak unfortunately, and still maintains a slightly strident quality from the sharpness of the last remaining faux-cinnamon, but is at the same time somehow relaxing from the soapy quality. It's very good...a warm, sweet, happy, comforting smell, a lot like Egoiste in the base but less strained or on-edge. I'm especially impressed how much you smell the spices without feeling them burn your nose; maybe that's because they're from chemicals in the wood itself, and not the usual added spices. Truly unique and well-composed.
28th March, 2013

parfums*PARFUMS Series 4 Cologne: Vettiveru by Comme des Garçons

It's been a while since I previously tried this, but I still remember it being sweeter and more floral than other vetivers. It opens very crisp and grassy, with what almost seems like a hint of mint. Much like Bobby Jones, it really makes me think of a lawn or a golf course. It's quiet in a kind of balanced way, which I'm somehow convinced is due to their not using any of the sharper-smelling natural oils (definitely a synthetic vibe!). Later on there gets to be more soil and less grass, almost straying into the violetty woods regime of He Wood and its flankers. It's not as strong as I recalled, but then I guess they're putting it in a "cologne" series since it's an EdC? Toward the end I start to recognize the inky component of the vetiver, but I still feel like I somehow missed something here. I thought I recalled it being more natural, but it's still decent, and it seems to recover strength and return to a more normal vetiver smell by the end. I'm giving it a reluctant thumbs-up in part because of how cheap it is and how long it lasts.
28th March, 2013

Royal Oud by Creed

First of all, I agree that this is not an oud scent for people who are serious about oud, but I've worn it a few times and been very impressed. I think this is what I wanted its immediate predecessor Spice and Wood to smell like (as opposed to smelling like nothing). The very top notes bring me a clean, zesty citrus over a backdrop of rich, warm woods and spices. The contrast is intriguing...the citrus is largely orange but it's light, rather than the ungraceful candied oranges of Habit Rouge or Nicolai New York. The wood is very rich but also not heavy, in fact surprisingly translucent. The spice combination almost reminds me of Santos, though this stuff is much sweeter, with the exotic edge brought by the moderate amount of oud they've used. For me, the oud comes out when I test it on paper, but not on skin or cloth, and mostly during the mid notes. I recognize it from M7, but it's not as oppressive here (sorry, I'm not into oud per se). By the base, there's just enough smoke to keep things mysterious without becoming too overpowering, and just enough of the lighter, Zino-like creamy blond woods to smooth things out. I'm starting to consider this as a substitute for Bois du Portugal, which never quite "did it" for me like I hoped it would. Granted, BdP has the interesting floral counterpoint from all that jasmine (or whatever it is), but it's just a bit too up-front with the old money vibe. Royal Oud is the type of scent that I was hoping Creed would finally step up and produce again: a strong but balanced, dark and complex masculine oriental that I would actually buy.
20th March, 2013
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Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

OK...finally reviewing Kouros...god help me. I ended up trying to clean it off me the last time I tried it. Right away I find soapy cloves and honey, as others have commented. There's a sliminess (civet, or faux-civet?), kind of like a very greasy musk. I don't find much piss or sweat yet, but I'm starting to get some anise/licorice, which for me usually means trouble ahead. It's surprisingly sweet in spite of all the pine, leather, turpentine, cowboy sweat, and whatever other horrors lurk within. What I'm noticing, though, is that when I test it on a bit of toilet paper as I'm doing now, it's way sweeter and less rank, but when I wear a splash of it on a T-shirt it's stale and pissy, and not very sweet, and this is when I had to get it off immediately. (I'm afraid to put it directly on my skin because I think it would beat me up.) Later, the sweetness and licorice start to subside, and it gets more sharp and herby like Yatagan, which I like, but it also adds a rubberiness which really bothers me. But the funny thing, the connection which I never made before, is that the mid-note stage immediately made me think of Aramis. It's so obvious now: Aramis has more soapy musk, and this stage of Kouros is surprisingly similar but with a bit of Yatagan and lumberjack extract to sharpen things up. Some time ago, I decided Aramis was too much for me, but that I could deal with Yatagan (or Eucris, along those lines). Kouros, however, combines the aspects that I _don't_ like of these scents, adds the rubber, and is too dated; it lives proudly in 1981, but I don't.
20th March, 2013

Ho Hang by Balenciaga

I often call it Ho Hum. It's definitely in the running among the barbershop spicy fougere clan, but I'm torn between being bored to death by it, or simply struggling to smell the spot of it that I just splashed. It opens with the same anise and powder as Jockey Club, but it's way weaker, and I feel like I'm always waiting for something interesting to happen. Eventually it gets a bit sweeter, more of a spicy oriental, but it's subtle, and the change makes it more fussy and musty to me. It really smells like 1971 in a bad way. I agree that the exotic woods become a bit more noticeable after a while, but again the change is too small for me to notice half the time, or care. The one certain thing about Ho Hang is that if I put it on in the morning, I am guaranteed to forget that I even wore cologne at all that day, and to forget what it even smelled like. It's just too dull and weak to care about.
12th March, 2013 (last edited: 09th August, 2014)

Bijan for Men by Bijan

This one really is a beast. I decided not to keep it, but it was a harder call to make than with some of its kin because it's a bit more appealing. The top notes have a nice fruitiness like Oscar De La Renta Pour Lui, and a dry cigarette-smokiness which doesn't bother me like it does in Floris Elite or Hermes Vetiver Tonka. It also has a black or purple waxy quality, like Preferred Stock but not as sweet. As others have said, though, while a lot of its components are very interesting, the total force is so strong and loud that it's difficult to deal with. The mid notes bring more honeyed sweetness, which reminds me of the dreaded Halston Z-14, resplendent with all its gold chains and chest hair. Yet the sharp herbs also remind me of the much dustier Yatagan, or the much older Trumper's Eucris; to me Bijan has more of a connection back to the older generations of men's fragrances than other powerhouses do. As with ODLR Pour Lui, I kept it a for a while, intrigued by the small but key facets that differentiate it from its peer group, but in both cases I finally had to say enough is enough: too strong and too dated.
12th March, 2013

Knize Twenty by Knize

This is a somewhat sharp but typical EdC, not terribly strong even for the genre. It opens very lemony with a fair amount of herbs, leaving it somewhere between the 4711/Jean Marie Farina-type EdCs and the Blenheim/Wellington/Granville-type bitter citruses. Unfortunately for me, it starts to drift more toward the latter, though I think it ends up with a bit of woodiness like Eau Sauvage which saves it from becoming a pure herbal assault. It gets to be an even drier, dustier wood as it dries down, which is interesting but doesn't change the fact that it's extremely weak, especially if I'm no longer treating it as a standard EdC. Now that it's been about eight minutes, I'm not sure that I can smell anything at all. I'll have to retry it on my T-shirt as I like to do with weaker frags, but I don't think it will be enough to help. Too was a good start.
23rd October, 2012

Les Nuits d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

This begins life as an unusual floral lemon--unusual in that the lemon is relegated to the back seat even during the top notes. I also detect what might be a very heady spice component if it were stronger, but again restrained to blend with the lemon and florals. It has a bit of mapley, anisy thickness that makes me suspect some immortelle, though not nearly as much as in their Sables, which nearly drowned me in pancake syrup. I don't find it particularly masculine, though the only feminine scents it actually reminds me of might be a few very old, very heavy ones. While the best comparison I can think of is to Boucheron, a very heavy lemon from my distant past, then I'd say Les Nuits would be a feminine analog to that; they share the same stodgy, dated stuffiness. Like Eau d'Hadrien, the lemon here hangs on for a remarkably long time, and with remarkably true lemoniness, but if I want that I would just reach for Eau. Overall it's not bad, but I'm not sure what niche of scent space it's trying to carve out for itself, and coupled with the gender neutrality it paints a very ambiguous picture. Lots of frankincense and sandalwood at the end brings us over to oriental territory. It's not for me, but still worth a sniff. Quite a chameleon.
23rd October, 2012

Eau d'Hadrien Eau de Toilette by Annick Goutal

Right from the start, a very appealing and realistic lemon scent. Sweet, but not saccharine or candied. Sour but not unreasonably so, and without the use of bitter herbs. And just floral enough for you to be aware of it in the background. It stays relatively pure in the way that many of the English barbershop lime scents do, so I was worried at first that that it would peter out quickly and into utter nothingness. After a few more minutes, I can tell that it's dropping off a bit less steeply than I thought it would. I'm not really sure how much of the trace woody base comes from other things they've added and how much is from the vague natural base of the lemon itself, but I definitely notice that the lemoniness has lasted far longer than I expected it to, much like the (relatively) long-lasting limeyness of Truefitt's surprisingly good lime scent. I don't like lemon as much as lime or grapefruit, but this is quite plainly the benchmark for lemon, and I don't recall any others I've tried beating it on longevity, initial strength, or the naturalness of the scent. Well done!
23rd October, 2012

L'Eau Bleue d'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake

This is a tough one, largely because it's weak. I searched far and wide for a sample of the non-Fraiche version, and eagerly hoped for a grayish-blue herbal aquatic like Bombay Sapphire Infusion. The opening is really well-done: crisp cucumber, juniper, herbs, and just a trace of mint face off against strong but completely un-sweet aqua notes. It has a little bit of the Blenheim-style herbs that I dislike, but not much. Very alpine, sharp, and bracing. It's not quite what I expected...more earthy and less surreal than the original, with more trees and less ocean than I predicted. It weakens faster than you'd expect, but the piney sting remains for a relatively long time. It has just the tiniest bit of violet to sweeten it, which I don't think is necessary at all but isn't enough to do any harm. Very natural pine in the end, but surprisingly weak, so I'm tending to group it mentally with the short-lived moist bitter green genre. I'll grant a reluctant thumbs-up because the natural pine base is unique.
07th October, 2012

Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès

This review has been a long time coming. I originally bought and gave up on the Concentree because it was too flowery and weak. I later bought a mini shower gel, bubble bath, shampoo, and conditioner of EdOV, and enjoy the scent (except the shower gel which seems to have gone rancid!) but the products don't even work well. So now, back to the original cologne. As is so often the case with citrus, the true accomplishment is in the initial blast that greets you. Here, the citrus is bitter, sharp and green, like the moist grassiness of Eau de Campagne or Eau de Gentiane Blanche. Plus a very natural smelling lime. And I say it that way because sometimes I think the citrus is secretly just secondary to the wet grass. After as little as a minute, it's already shifting toward "Stuffy English Barber's West Indian Limes", still not sweet at all, with a reedy, bambooey aspect that makes me think of the newest version of Eau Sauvage. The wet grass is gone, leaving only a slight tinge. The refreshing citrus is gone. So what I'm left with in my assessment is an EdC that features a layer of Campagne or Gentiane on top of an Old Gentleman's Lime (not that I dislike those) but stuck with an OGL's terrible sub-EdC-range longevity. I can only give it a thumbs down because not only is there nothing left to smell after 5 minutes, but I've suffered a long and arduous ordeal trying to find a version of the scent, or its bath products, that really last and/or work, and none of it has really panned out. I'm sorry that my anger has led me to do this, but hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned.
07th October, 2012

Arôme 3 by D'Orsay

This was a real mess of notes, straddling many genres, the last time I tried it, so here I go again. The beginning comes to me as a camphoraceous, heady, herbal grass. This falls unfortunately into the bitter herbal citrus category that doesn't appeal to me, but it's even worse because the eucalyptus (?) gives it a corrosive, almost urinous feel even though it doesn't literally smell like piss. I'm sure a lot of this is also due to lavender, again not my favorite note, but you lavender lovers might want to look into this stuff. After a while, it gets a lot weaker and a lot less harsh, maybe more of a sharp, green woods, very gently spiced. It's actually not bad by this stage; the transformation was both sudden and substantial. The spices have come more to the forefront, creating a slightly balsamic spicy wood, though it's a bit anisy for my tastes. It would pass for a decent "barbershop" style fragrance, but I don't see any point in suffering through an agonizing first few minutes when I can buy barbershop fragrances that don't force me to do that. And it's not even very strong by this stage either. Kind of an expensive way to waste those first few minutes.
07th October, 2012

Forest Rain by Kiehl's

For some reason, I was convinced that this would be a much bluer or greener scent, but I'm finding it much redder than I expected, leaning toward magenta. The opening is brilliant: a lush, semi-tropical unisex fruit basket, with the type of florals you'd find in a Gendarme (or Richard James, or At The Beach 1966). I almost am at the point of being able to pick out individual fruits, and maybe that's why I like it; I don't like most fruit fragrances but I also can usually never pick out their notes because all the ones I've tried are frankly synthetic, metallic garbage. What troubles me is that the fruit starts to shift more toward resembling cherry, a note that I truly despise. At first, the scent passes through a phase where it reminds me of cherry popsicles, which doesn't bother me. It gets a little worse, but isn't too bad and only leaves me mildly annoyed because it's not as candy-like as a lot of other brands become by this stage. It's actually a lot closer to Richard James than I remembered from my first few trials, and this earns it a lot of my respect, but it's still not quite what I hoped for, nor is it an amazing and serendipitous find. Just a unisex floral cherry fragrance.
07th October, 2012

Bois de Filao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Starts out as a weak, green wood scent with a warm spicy edge, very gingery, with a somewhat otherwordly transparency. Soon both the green notes and the spice start to dissipate, leaving just a sweet exotic wood scent, slightly smoky, which is refreshingly minimalist but unfortunately stays weak. There's a definite spice component remaining, but it doesn't stand out as one obviously identifiable spice. I don't think there's any vanilla, thankfully, though there's a bit of that medicinal edge of an oud, or of certain sandalwoods. This stuff is really nice, and it would be a thumbs-up if it were stronger. By the end, though, it decays further toward just being a trace of dustiness. Too bad. And I agree with the last review that it is unisex but leaning masculine.

EDIT: The above is for an older vial that I once had. The newer vial that I got subsequently had a very different smell, much more floral and feminine.
26th July, 2012 (last edited: 11th April, 2014)

Allure Homme by Chanel

This is a very strong combination of fruit and spice, with a moderate amount of wood. It's always struck me as very synthetic, though, and the fruit in the top notes immediately makes me think of Lucky #6 or Soul by Curve, or any other discount store brand fruit fragrance. It's like a candied red apple with some kiwi or other tropical fruit thrown in, plus that all-too-common trace of cherry which always turns me off. Or "eau de everything at the fragrance counter hanging around it in a cloud". Considering how good some of the flankers are, it's a bit of a disappointment for me, though some of their newer, bluer offerings (!) have been pretty lousy. As the sharpness of the fruit recedes a bit (apple fading into strawberry?), it paves the way for more resinous notes and a bit of vanilla, but the mix still stays strong, chemical, and metallic. I also think it gets more powdery as it goes, and even overtly floral in the later stages, which I could definitely do without, and it's not spicy enough at any stage (i.e. never enough spice to counteract the sweetness). What I think kills the fragrance is how over-constructed it is, as if they put so much effort into blending so many intense notes that it just becomes an unrelentingly sweet fruit overload.
26th July, 2012

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

The progression between the stages of this stuff was very slow for me last time, so I'll get through as much of it as I can today. Initially, I'd call it soda plus chocolate, with a vein of something fruit-based that provides a streak of coolness across the warm sweetness, at least for the first few minutes. I think there's both coffee and caramel, a slight nuttiness, and of course tobacco, and I actually like this phase quite a bit because I find there's enough earthiness and dust to cut the sweetness. It's a surprisingly masculine gourmand, and the soda/cola connotations here are OK by my standards because they're more like the cola-flavored Bottle Caps candy, sort of a toned down reference to cola. The overall smoothness of the mixture is rather remarkable, with nothing sticking out and the individual notes blurring into one another. Even the extreme sweetness, which might normally be suffocatingly heavy, stays restrained by the other components for now; it comes across as more of a liqueur sweetness (frangelico, kahlua, and bailey's?) than a candy sweetness. It risks being very potpourri-ish, and as much as I like potpourri, I worry that it would call to mind too many associations with your prim and proper aunt Georgina's elaborate Christmas decorations. Ultimately, the vanilla gets stronger and more insistent very slowly over many hours, and eventually ends up being a bit much for me as the earthier notes fade. A very interesting blend, but I agree that the first hour or two is what's worthwhile.
14th May, 2012

Marc Jacobs for Men by Marc Jacobs

This stuff is kind of strange, and I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. It is indeed fig and coconut, and opens green and creamy, and not very sweet. The combination is very tropical and refreshing, but it shares some of the bug spray aspect that intrudes into my enjoyment of Tommy Bahama...just a slight chemical edge. It starts to get less green and more spicy after a few minutes, with a little bit of the rubber smell of brand new sneakers. The green foliage also starts to return, but this time it's musty and fetid, and no longer tantalizing. Fangorn forest, where the Ents live, probably smells like this. I like how the stuff never gets out of hand in terms of sweetness, but as it progresses it just gets too dirty and staid. By the end, there's a big component of soggy, rotten rubber from an old shoe, with the foliage of an office ficus trying to keep it pleasant. There are so many better fig fragrances that it's a bit of a waste of time in that arena, but it's not too bad overall.
14th May, 2012

Infusion d'Homme by Prada

A lot of people talk about this as a good soapy scent, and I'll concur with that, but it's a very different type of animal from Mugler Cologne, Gendarme, or most of the others because it's in part a musk scent. The opening is very nothing-ish, and as people have suggested, it really smells like the skin-plus-residual-soap scents of a man who just got out of the shower. What I don't like is how the sweetness is very metallic and artificial...even though it's not super sweet, what sweetness there is is like encountering aspartame when you were expecting real sugar. As it starts to get less floral and more spicy and musky, this aspect goes away to some extent, but now it becomes a question of whether the musk is too rosy and feminine. (And synthetic!) It's not an over-the-top tour of the candy and detergent factory like Prada Amber, but it still can't escape that same surreal, almost fake edge. As the musk retreats a bit in the base to reveal anise, its downfall is complete according to my nose, and what's left is a tacky post-modern mockery of vintage women's perfumes.
14th May, 2012

Zizonia by Penhaligon's

This is another of the family that I would call "light woods," and initially I thought it was going to be very close to their Opus 1870. It's very subtle right out of the vial, with a similar sweet (but not sweetened?) cedar and some orange. It has just enough of the dry pencil-shavings to be a true, believable wood scent, without going overboard; it feels like the notes stay near the surface but I wouldn't call it shallow. It's like a vague shadow of Nicolai New York that has shed the heavier components. There's maybe a hint of bubblegum (frankincense?) in there but not enough to spoil it. I think that Zizonia retains discretely detectable wood and floral notes, while in Opus everything blends together into a transparent, uniform wall of scent. Unfortunately my nose got stuffed up halfway through this, so I may rewrite it later, but I also know that it's weak from previous trials, and that it possesses the same soft, powdery vibe that neuters a lot of their "masculine" offerings.
06th May, 2012

Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Another fougere of sorts from Pen's...opens with a quiet, dry, grassy green, and includes a heavy dose of the same type of subtle florals as in Monsieur de Givenchy, as well as some slightly musty fruit. After a few minutes it starts to get sappier, and some sort of sweet spice becomes more noticeable underneath, like drinking a Dr. Pepper in damp earthy grass. The vanilla starts to show up a little later but stays restrained behind the spices. At this point I have trouble remembering the differences between this stuff, their English Fern, and Houbigant's reissued Fougere Royale, though I'm not the best judge of traditional fougeres. I like how it avoids the wintergreen-like note that usually bugs me in this group, but because they've replaced it with cola-type spices, it's a dubious victory by my tastes. Still, it manages to stay more masculine than most of their "masculine" scents, and stays old-fashioned without being too dated. I also recommend it, along with Polo Modern Reserve, as a green scent that starts out "summery" and slowly becomes heavier and more "wintery" toward the end.
06th May, 2012