Perfume Reviews

Reviews by mistersurgery

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Total Reviews: 9

Chrome by Azzaro

Chrome by Azzaro is a totally synthetic melange of scents that, in their presentation, have no reference points in nature. Chrome and cK One (1994) are siblings, but not siblings in the sense of being human siblings. They're more like siblings along the lines of the Agents in the "The Matrix."
You don't smell Chrome and picture some perfumer, hunched over their old, wooden desk with small vials of essential oils splayed about, working their alchemy while a lone candle burns to provide them their light to work. No, no, no...this was made in a lab that's all stainless steel (dare I say...chrome?), porcelain, and fluorescent lighting, by a person dressed in the gear that HazMat workers use to clean up chemical spills.

Now, that may sound like I'm trashing Chrome, but I'm not. In fact, I very much like Chrome in the way that I like cK One. I like the fact that this is a chemical mess, and I like the fact that it smells manufactured. The "transparent musks," whatever the hell they are, and the hedione produce a clean, soapy (more detergent-like than soapy, to be precise), metallic scent that is fun to wear. It projects well for a little while, but its sillage and longevity are rather ephemeral, so this won't be with you all day long, which may be a good thing, depending on your opinion of this fragrance.

This scent, like cK One, is like Taco Bell to me. It's not something that I will reach for with any regular occurrence, and it's more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. Certainly not something that I would want to be viewed as being regularly associated with. But I tell you, every once in a while a bean burrito seems to scratch that itch that shows up, and that will be when you'll find me waiting in line at the drive-thru, possibly wearing Chrome while trying to decide if I want to add a soft taco to my order. Thumbs up.
17th April, 2019

Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

There are certain fragrances that another user once described as "white whales." These would be those amazing fragrances that are available for way less than they could be, based on their quality. I don't find scents like that too often, but I love it when I come across one (or someone else turns me on to it), and Bentley for Men Intense is one of those white whales.

Bentley for Men Intense doesn't evolve, really. It's an envelopment of smoky incense, wood, and leather, that starts off boldly and then slowly tapers down to a more sandalwood/patchouli base with incense still being the dominant note. It's a little boozy but still pretty dry, in my opinion. Some reviewers have said this is a boozy scent, but I think a very boozy version of this scent would be Dirty English by Juicy Couture (2008 --another phenomenal bang-for-the-buck scent) or John Varvatos Dark Rebel Rider (2016), also a great value fragrance. Bentley for Men Intense's spirit animal is Gucci pour Homme (2003), without a doubt. This is what I use in place of GpH when I don't think it warrants me using what little I have left of Tom Ford's (stupidly) discontinued gem. It projects loudly at first, and then hangs close to the skin for quite a while. Five hours after application and you will still pick up whiffs of it as you go about your day. Very good sillage and excellent longevity

This is not an office wear scent. This is definitely a more intimate fragrance that does its best work during autumn/winter. If you like the wood/incense thing, any of the scents I listed above will scratch your itch just fine (good luck finding GpH without getting bled dry for it), but out of all of them (barring GpH), Bentley for Men is the most well-presented version. If this was a scent by Dior, this would probably sell twenty times as much as it currently does. Yes, believe the hype, and yes, if you like woody/incense fragrances, this is, for all intents and purposes, a blind buy. Two thumbs way up for this one.
16th April, 2019

Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

I believe that this fragrance is quite aptly named, not so much because it could be a combination of Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene (1975) and vetiver, but because it is vetiver presented in a grey, drab version. That sounds a bit harsh, and I don't mean it as a knock against Grey Vetiver, but this fragrance could have been called Office Vetiver or Lobotomized Vetiver, and it still would seem aptly named to me.

The reason for this, at least for me, is because this is a very subdued vetiver, and coming from Tom Ford, that's a bit of a surprise. Ford is not someone I think of as putting out "restrained" scents; think M7 (2002), Gucci pour Homme (2003), Black Orchid (2006), etc. I think of vetiver and go to classics like Guerlain Vetiver (1961) or Creed Original Vetiver (2004), both of which I love, and both of which have an upfront, clean "bouquet" that is very noticeable and tasteful without feeling restrained. Grey Vetiver doesn't have that strong presence. It is impeccably done, and is one of those scents that is like one of the groomsmen in the wedding party; well-dressed, plays his part well, but isn't who you're focusing your attention on. This is a good vetiver to wear at a spring funeral. It's vetiver done well, but made to not draw attention or offend.

So, is it good? Absolutely. Although it may sound like I've been dispraising Grey Vetiver, that's not the case at all. Harry Fremont did a great job with this. The only criticism that I have is that the sillage and longevity of this are mediocre, and Grey Vetiver is not inexpensive. This is most certainly a try before you buy, but only because of the price. If you like vetiver, you most assuredly will like this, so the only question will be whether you think this presentation of vetiver is worth the shekels. As far as my view on the scent itself? Thumbs up, for sure.

14th April, 2019
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Jaïpur Homme by Boucheron

There are those certain fragrance types that are perennially popular, and "barbershop" is one of the classics that I doubt (quite thankfully) will ever go away. As big as the fragrance market is, there are very few scents that really get the "barbershop" feel right, and I'd say that Jaipur Homme is one of them.

It's a powder-bomb, for sure. On first spray, it actually reminds me of something that one of my grandmothers would wear (she was born in 1922), and I could almost see this next to her bottle of Emeraude (1921) or Shalimar (1925). The fact that this was created in in 1997 -- by Annick Menardo, no less -- seems kind of shocking to me, as it is in no way reminiscent of some of the super-synthetic melanges of that time. Jaipur accomplishes its job in an understated way that is very stable and refined. The bergamot is curb-stomped into submission by the heliotrope during the opening, and that's not something I object to in this case. Clove is present all the way from opening to close, and it adds a pleasant stinger to the powder, keeping this from being an overly powdery mess. This is also accompanied by a noticeable nutmeg and a more reserved vanilla and cinnamon. Thankfully, the vanilla is restrained, which keeps this from being one of the infinite -- and overdone -- gourmands that have saturated the market for quite a while. The base doesn't veer all too far from the opening, but that could be because -- as others have pointed out -- it gets to the drydown awfully fast. It settles into a nice, powdery, vanilla-fougere scent, and a well-done one at that. This one sticks around for a while, though projection doesn't match the intensity of its duration. You'll be smelling it for a while. Whether others will; that's not as certain.

It really is a "barbershop oriental," and is probably my favorite of the barbershop scents, save for Rive Gauche pour Homme (2003), which still holds the top spot in my book. This is nice enough to wear during the evening, yet still restrained enough that it wouldn't come across as inappropriate in an office or professional setting. This definitely shines during colder weather, and is not recommended during hot, humid days; standard oriental rules still apply. If you're into barbershop scents, I think this one is a no-brainer -- in fact, I'd go so far as to call this a blind-buy. Definitely a thumbs-up from this guy.
11th April, 2019

Higher Energy by Christian Dior

The first whiff I got from this was like a blast from the past, and that blast's name is Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein (1989). And then Eternity had a bastard child with Pasha by Cartier (1992), and Higher Energy (2003) was born (hey, the timeline kind of works in my make-believe scenario!). That's what I'm getting from this stuff.

It is by no means a bad scent, but it is by no means a great or even a really good scent. Dior said that this was aimed at a younger crowd, and by golly they made a scent for the younger crowd. I truly believe that men over 30 should never wear this; it smells like something a teenager would wear. Or something that a teenager whose parents have money would wear. Honestly, if you were to tell me that this was some drugstore scent, I wouldn't doubt you, though I might qualify it by saying that it was a pretty well-made drugstore scent. The initial blast definitely has that synthetic Eternity sharpness to it (the grapefruit/pineapple acidic note harkening Eternity's mandarin note), but it mellows down into a Pasha-like fresh fougere, which makes this seem like an odd scent to me, as it was created in 2003, but really smells like something out of the late '80s/early '90s. This is not bad stuff, but it reminds me of that bottle of Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent (1988) that I have, in that they are not too dissimilar scent-wise, and that the odds of me wearing it again are pretty slim, though you never know.

I'm not giving this a thumbs down, as it didn't offend my sensibilities in any way, but I can't in good conscience give this a thumbs up. The sillage is pretty good and the longevity is solid, as well, so if you actually like this fragrance, that's good news. But as far as the scent itself, I find it to be a rather uninspired re-hashing of older stuff. Higher Energy (it sound like something President Trump would say Jeb Bush needs) is like frozen pizza. It's inferior in basically every way to freshly made pizza, but it has its place for some. There are so many better options than this, but for some, this is what turns their crank. With that said, I'd say that I'm being somewhat generous in my neutral rating of this one.
21st March, 2019

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

First, let me just say that if you want a good technical breakdown of Mugler Cologne (2001), you can find it in the myriad of reviews that predate mine (Zealot Crusader's is particularly good -- all of his reviews are good and entertaining, for that matter). I'm going to touch on a few points and thoughts, quite possibly with no method to my madness; let's see how this pans out.

If Mugler was trying to recreate a bar of luxury soap, then he did a damned good of job it, with due credit to Alberto Morillas. I can tell this is a Morillas creation because like cK One (1994) -- another of his works -- it is a completely inoffensive and benign scent that seems like a mess of notes, but it keeps you sniffing at your wrist (or other organs/appendages depending on your freak level) non-stop. It's so inconspicuous that it stands out. That's because it's an old-fashioned-style cologne that instantly reminded me of another -- as Zealot Crusader pointed out correctly -- Number Six by Caswell-Massey (1789). This is basically Number Six, given a musky base that to amp up the longevity (Number Six practically requires hourly re-application). It's a classic smell, and I mean in a "Continental Congress-Classic" kind of way. For those of you who would need a simple description, as another reviewer posted below, it's basically a long-lasting, turbo-charged version of a high-end hotel soap.

And that's the twist that I love. Mugler wanted it to smell like soap, and I think you almost need to know the backstory of Mugler Cologne in order to truly appreciate the scent for what it is. Tell someone who asks what that fragrance your wearing is and answer "high-end hotel soap," and they'll look at you like you've got seven heads. When I was a young kid, I collected soaps. Really. I liked soaps that were shaped into animals, objects, weird shapes, whatever. This is a perfect scent for me to have on the shelf, and I do. It's great at what it does and it does what it is made to do, and that's "smell like some high-end soap." And honestly, that's a nice break from oud-laced orientals, shrill aquatics, and powerhouse fougeres. This is a pair of white linen pants, a white t-shirt, and white slip-on loafers. You could say that it's boring and without flavor or panache, or you might say that "lack" of flavor and panache -- the classic simplicity -- is actually what makes it elegant. I go with the latter, for sure. Some other reviewers have compared it to Creed's Original Vetiver (2004). I agree that there are some similarities, but they smell different enough that I wouldn't be confused. To me, someone saying that Mugler Cologne smells like Original Vetiver is like someone saying Coke tastes like Pepsi.

Sillage and longevity are truly a mystery to me. I smell it upon application, and then I can barely smell it ten minutes later, even if I hold my wrist to my nose. Yet, I'll get occasional wisps of it that I pick up when I'm doing nothing. I'm not sure if I need to apply more or whether I've got enough on. I'm going to say that sillage and longevity on this are fairly weak, although traces of it will stick close to you for hours and at other times you will smell nothing; it wears very bizarrely on me. Mugler Cologne is good stuff, and with its ease of availability and relatively low price, this is a safe blind-buy. Read a few reviews here and you'll know what you're getting into. If you like what you read, you'll enjoy what you get. Mugler accomplished his mission with this, and I give it a thumbs-up.
20th March, 2019 (last edited: 21st March, 2019)

Blu Mediterraneo Cedro di Taormina by Acqua di Parma

I tend to be rather skeptical when trying out offerings by Acqua di Parma, as my experience with them started with Colonia, and then it seemed to be a revolving door of variations on that scent that just seemed to be an olfactory blur. I quite enjoyed their Blu Mediterraneo Foglie di Basilico (1999), which is sadly (criminally) discontinued, but I'll stop myself from opining on that further, for the moment.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Cedro di Taormina, as I normally go into AdP offerings like this expecting that near-cloying, lemony, citrus blast, but this one was different. There was a brief hit of that lemon note, but paired with a nice black pepper that is not so strong as to add spiciness to the mix, rather, it serves as a dark undercurrent, very similar in my mind to Terre d'Hermès (2006). In fact, after the initial drydown this wears very much like Terre d'Hermes, but I actually enjoy this more, as Terre d'Hermès always seemed to me to be the combination of oranges, wet rocks, and a dirty ashtray; it works, but that's how it always smelled to me. Cedro di Taormina smells remarkably similar with the black pepper being the constant, but the nice differentiator is that the typical AdP citrus starts to fade after about a half hour or so, leaving you with a pleasant accord of cedar, pepper, and a nice but subtle vetiver. Normally, I find vetiver fragrances to have more of a "clean/soapy" smell, for lack of a better description, but the pepper and wood make this a "dirty" kind of vetiver, and I don't mean that in any negative way. It's a rather simple but unique formulation, in that it's not an original concept, but that they have seemed to nail the ratios perfectly. Everything is presented as it should be, with no particular note either chewing up the scenery, or being outshined (Soundgarden reference intended), by the others.

The sillage on this is good, as is the longevity, which was a pleasant surprise to me, as again, I'm used to AdP scents like Colonia, that seem to dissipate completely after twenty minutes of wear.

I wouldn't recommend this as a blind buy, but I certainly recommend you try it out. Acqua di Parma is normally a brand I associate with the warmer months, but the black pepper note in this fragrance makes this something that I could wear throughout the year. Thumbs up from this guy.
17th March, 2019

Virgin Island Water by Creed

This scent gets a big thumbs up from me, BUT it comes with a few qualifying remarks.

This is a truly wonderful scent. It really does transport you to a beach on a warm, summer's day, especially if you are old enough to remember when people would slather on Banana Boat Suntan Lotion (this was back when people didn't use sunblock and instead used a lotion to increase the amount of rays that they got), because this smells just like a 1980s sunbather right after they spilled a mojito on themselves.

The initial hit is coconut and lime, which I must say is perfectly balanced. It's difficult to make sure that the creaminess of the coconut and the bright acidity of the lime are in harmony, with neither of the ingredients overshadowing the other, which is often the case with scents like these. There is similarity to Set Sail St. Bart's for Men by Tommy Bahama (2007 - same year this was released, no less), but Set Sail doesn't contain the coconut aspect of VIW, and is more synthetic and complex (though it is a favorite of mine in the warmer months, and I certainly recommend it) in its composition. Set Sail is close enough to VIW to be its stunt double, if you get my drift. User seeroos.syed absolutely nailed this fragrance's doppelganger; Bath and Body Works' Coconut Lime Verbena body spray, or in my case, the car freshener that someone gave me back in the '90s. This is very much the same, but with a more subdued lime and a far less synthetic feel to it. VIW is surprisingly natural and really smells like someone threw suntan lotion and a mojito in a bottle, shook it up, and applied it. And honestly, those are smells that I dig. There are really only three notes in this fragrance that stand out; coconut, lime, and rum. And that's just fine by me, because they are presented in a very natural and very well-balanced way.

The smell is great, the sillage is fair, and longevity is good. This wears very close to the skin on me, so if you're looking for projection, you need to be liberal on the trigger with this. It dries down surprisingly fast, but that's not bad, as the drydown is nicer than the initial spray, in my opinion. Very inoffensive, great for the summer months (or the colder months when you want to daydream, as I'm doing now), and certainly a scent that keeps me sniffing at my wrists every few minutes to drink it in. This is a fragrance that I would wear solely for me, and one that I would wear so that every time I sniff my wrist, I can momentarily transport myself to some island in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean coast. This is not something I would expect compliments on, as this is more an olfactory experience rather than an accoutrement to an outfit. That's why this fragrance is unisex. It's no more male or female than suntan lotion and mojitos are. It doesn't smell masculine or feminine; it smells like the tropics.

Which brings us to the big issue; price. Is this worth $200-400? I would say "yes," with the caveat being that you really, really love the natural smells of coconuts, lime, and rum, and you need to have the best representation of them in a fragrance. For people without that kind of disposable income, you can get a good deal of VIW's effect with a bottle of Set Sail St. Bart's for between 1/10th-1/20th (I'm not being hyperbolic) of the price.

For what Creed set out to do with this fragrance, they knocked it out of the park. It's a very enjoyable niche fragrance, executed well, at a premium price point. Apart from the price and a fairly weak sillage, I really can't knock it. This is one of Creed's best offerings, in my opinion.
26th February, 2019 (last edited: 20th March, 2019)

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

Let me first start this review by saying that Zealot Crusader has done an impeccable job of breaking down the full spectrum of notes in his review, so for me to do the same would be nothing more than an exercise in redundancy. You want the proper composition analysis on this, go read his review. That said, here are my opinions on the scent.

The new formulation has certainly changed from the old, with the newer iterations losing some of the pine/moss notes, and giving way to more soapy notes, which I actually like. Not just owing to more recent restrictions on ingredients, this also seems to be a more updated take on the original, with the mossy/pine qualities being greatly toned down, causing the soapy quality to be more pronounced, giving it the feel of something more akin to the '90s or '00s, rather than the brute force of your powerhouse '80s fougeres. This greatly reduces the effect that I so vividly remember from the late '80s, where men would near-bathe in this stuff to the point that they gave off visible smell-rays. This is certainly reflected in the fact that the sillage is greatly reduced, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. I never thought I would say "you may need to spray a little more Drakkar Noir than you usually would," but here we are. The changes make this actually seem more refined to me, and I no longer immediately smell this and envision Marlboro Lights, a 1989 Mustang GT, and Z. Cavaricci pants when I catch a whiff.

That said, it's most certainly indicative of the time when it was created, yet I think it does a good job as carrying across a cool, contrived retro feel when worn. Kind of like how Polo by Ralph Lauren or Kouros by YSL smell like an "old" fragrance, but never go out of style. The fact that the mossy note has been neutered on this gives it less of the musty feel that I remember; that same mustiness you get in an old, wet basement or in a damp wooded area. That mustiness made this, for me, very much a scent that didn't fare well in warmer, more humid climates, as Drakkar Noir always seemed to me to be a fougere that people used as if it were an aquatic -- and I dare say that it borders on that line, almost --, and warmer, wetter climes would amplify the damp/mossy notes to the point where it was horribly cloying. The new iteration, I think, actually gets its strengths in the cooler months, as this scent is now a markedly more "fresh" fougere. Sillage is pretty good (it was bordering on radioactive before), and the longevity is still there, with the scent drying down to a very soft yet clean base that is not as acrid as the old formula.

This can be had online or in your local Marshalls/TJ Maxx, etc., for a reasonable price. For a younger person who was not around when this scent was so ubiquitous, I think it's something that would be quite a treat to discover, and a very accessible fougere for those who might shy away from the in-your-face fougeres of that era, but for those of us who remember this when it was out in its original form, it is a Drakkar Noir that traded the Z. Cavariccis and Air Jordans in for a comfortable pair of chinos and a pair of Bass Weejun penny loafers. It still works, and is still something I'll wear every rare once in a while, though I wonder what it would be like to smell this without being flooded by memories of days past that most certainly give me -- and many other people who were around at that time -- a slanted view of a fragrance that had such a massive impact.

A most certain thumbs up from me, as it is still a wearable scent, and just due to its history, deserves a place on the shelf. If you're a collector and into the fragrance hobby, I can't see why you shouldn't own a bottle, as this is, like Nickelback, something that everyone bought and enjoyed at one time, regardless of whether they now want to admit it or not.
25th February, 2019