Perfume Reviews

Reviews by djolney

Total Reviews: 61

Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels

The opening of Tsar is excellent: a bold and refined combination of lavender and neroli that gains warmth from the pepper below it.

The lily of the valley and carnation in the heart of Tsar give the fragrance an enjoyable juxtaposition between light and dark florals.

The base is a soft woods, moist earth, and slightly leathery affair that makes up for its understatedness by being extremely elegant.

Tsar is a pleasure to wear.

Longevity is good, but I wish Tsar’s sillage was better.

06th April, 2010

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

Pour Homme opens with a combination of notes that is simultaneously green, resinous, soapy, sweet, and animalic. The juniper and basil remind me of the opening of Creed’s Baie de Genievre, but with less spice; the soapiness hints at the amount of vetiver to come; the sweetness has a powdery orris tone to it; and the animalic warmth rising up from the base suggests that there is a good deal of animalic action to come.

As the top notes settle down, the jasmine and orris arrive as a sweet cloud. This sweetness is balanced by earthy patchouli and slightly peppery carnation, which are followed by an earthy vetiver.

The combination of olibanum, cedar, and animalic notes that herald the arrival of the base reminds me of Caron’s Parfume sacre.

The olibanum ties the base of pour Homme together: it weaves its way around like smoke, even though it doesn’t smell smokey. The olibanum in pour Homme is like an unlit stick of sweet incense: similar to the incense note in Caron’s Parfum Sacre, or Montale’s Louban. The base is a highly integrated blend of vetiver, leather, sweet earthiness (patchouli and amber), and a warm animalic note. The animalic note stretches and growls every now and then, but careful application stops it from becoming too muscular.

Every now and then the combination of greenness, incense, and animalic notes reminds me of Kouros, but there are more differences than similarities between the two fragrances. Kouros has a refined barbarity about it that pour Homme lacks, and pour Homme has a hardness about it that Kouros lacks.

Pour Homme is tightly wound, but not to the point where I would call it stuffy or uptight. It is intense and has gravitas, and is probably best suited to people who can’t help but project single minded determination.

I am enjoying wearing pour Homme, but I can’t help thinking about what it means that I enjoy wearing it.

29th March, 2010

Parfum Sacré by Caron

Sophisticated, elegant, and alluring.

A sparkling aldehydic opening, lush flowers, soft incense, smooth vanilla and musk, and a hint of powderiness.

Parfum Sacre has the feel of The Third Man, and is, perhaps, Caron’s feminine response to this stylish masculine fragrance.

A classic, yes; old fashioned, no.

15th February, 2010
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BalMan by Pierre Balmain

Sweet, dark, and masculine: another under appreciated fragrance from Balmain.

To my nose, there are different kinds of sweetness: ranging from sugar syrup at one end of the scale to earthy fruit sweetness at the other end. Things that are sugar syrup sweet are nothing but sweet: the sweetness is narrow, intense, and all pervading. Things at the earthy fruit sweet end of the scale combine sweetness with other notes: other notes are made sweet rather than sweetness being the predominant note.

BalMan is an earthy fruit sweet fragrance. The plum note has a tangy citrus top (from the cardamom), a spicy middle, and an earthy stone fruit base (from the oak moss). The plum note seems odd to start with, because it is not simple or narrow, but becomes more rewarding over time.

The liquorice and tonka bean in BalMan add depth without adding sweetness, lending the fragrance a spicy feel something like Boucheron’s Jaipur pour Homme EdT.

When the oak moss arrives BalMan becomes deeper and darker. The stone from the plum and the oak moss give the base extra masculine gravity, which contrasts interestingly with the fruity top notes. There might be sandalwood (or something like it) in here, somewhere, but it is kept in a supporting role between the tonka bean, plum stone, and oak moss.

Sillage and longevity are very good, as with all of Balmain’s fragrances.

To my nose, BalMan neither smells cheap or synthetic. It is a highly integrated fragrance, in which the notes very much become as one. The notes are not handled in the way that one might expect, and, consequently, BalMan needs to be approached with patience and an open mind in order to be fully appreciated.

28th January, 2010

Eau de Lalique by Lalique

Eau de Lalique is sparkling, lush, warm, and soft, and is a must try fragrance.

Eau de Lalique opens with a sparkling burst of citrus that quickly gains extra warmth and depth from cardamom. This is followed by dill, which both adds a dewy greenness to the citrus, as well as contributing to the lush feel of the flowers in the heart. When the cinnamon arrives, it warms the flowers and prepares the ground for the woods and musk. The base is soft, warm, and slightly moist, and it lasts for hours.

I never thought I would like such a light fragrance as Eau de Lalique, but it is so beautifully constructed that I am developing an appreciation for subtle transparency.

It has very good longevity for an Eau, and the sillage is surprisingly reasonable.

Eau de Lalique is in the same category as Balmain de Balmain: an underappreciated bargain.

12th December, 2009

Lalique pour Homme Equus by Lalique

This review is for the EdP formulation.

Equus is nice and annoying at the same time.

First of all, let’s get the really annoying bit out of the way: Equus has average longevity and pathetic sillage. I have never before encountered an EdP with so little capacity to project off of my skin. Equus is a definite try before you buy fragrance: to see if it will come out to play on your skin.

And now for the smell. Equus can’t decide what it wants to be.

On one hand it is a green woodlands smell replete with green foliage and undergrowth joined together by soft woods.

And on the other hand it is a soft spice fragrance with a musk base.

To my nose, the two halves do not fit together naturally, and the only thing that almost makes Equus work is that everything is so soft that nothing can clash with anything else.

The juniper berries are neither crisp nor aromatic (as they are in Creed’s Baie de Genievre); the violet leaves don’t have any punch (as they do in Balmain de Balmain or Creed’s Green Irish Tweed); the cardamom and mace don’t help to draw the fragrance together (as the cardamom, dill, and cinnamon do in Eau de Lalique); and the woods are so soft that they have almost no presence.

And yet I still want to like it.

07th December, 2009

Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel

This review is for the EdP formulation.

Coco Mademoiselle opens with a lovely burst of citrus, and it is the orange in particular that captures my attention. To my nose, it is a slightly bitter orange, and I think I perceive it this way because the orange and grapefruit fit together so beautifully. The orange lasts well into the heart of the fragrance, and adds to the airy, optimistic tone of the composition.

The citrus opening is very quickly joined by the heart notes, and the two parts join together rather than one fading out and one fading in. The litchi gives CM a lovely grown up fruity feel, and provides something for the slightly bitter orange to connect with. The rose and jasmine are not the typical Chanel variety: the rose gains substance from connecting with the fruit, and the jasmine is greener and moister than in many other Chanel fragrances. The heart of CM is simultaneously fruity, floral, and green, and it is my favourite Chanel heart.

The dry down is a predominantly patchouli affair, with enough vetiver to add to the patchouli’s earthy, sweet feel. The combination of the patchouli and vetiver keeps the vanilla in a supporting role, which gives CM extra depth and substance. The musk is very feminine and just a little bit sexy.

Coco Mademoiselle is a fragrance for optimistic women who see the glass as being half full. If you see the glass as being half empty, then sniff elsewhere. CM is a confident fragrance for confident women of all ages.

18th November, 2009

Encre Noire by Lalique

This review is for the EdT formulation.

What an intriguing journey: from film noir black trench coat and fedora to black silk pyjamas.

Encre Noire undergoes the most striking transformation of any fragrance I have worn so far. It opens with a smoky and nutty vetiver that is most definitely tough and gritty. This film noir scent lasts for about ten minutes before the cypress wood arrives and changes the tone of the fragrance. The cypress wood brings a cool crispness to the fragrance, which balances nicely with the warm vetiver.

For the next couple of hours Encre Noire swings back and forth between warmth and coolness, and this movement keeps me sniffing my wrist. It’s almost like the tough guy in a film noir movie is agonising over a decision, and we get to smell him weighing up the situation.

Like all good things, this movement comes to an end. When the dry down arrives it is a surprise: the coolness from the cypress wood fades away; the vetiver becomes greener and softer; and soft woods and musk arrive. Encre Noire goes from brooding film noir to romantic black silk pyjamas in less than 20 minutes. The dry down is tender and elegant, and has a romantic, animalic air about it.

Longevity is good and sillage is low.

I didn’t expect Encre Noire to be as complex or interesting as it is. It is simultaneously an excellent vetiver fragrance and a yard stick by which the heights of the perfumer’s art can be measured. I am sure that I will always have a bottle on hand.

Guerlain’s Vetiver might have been the vetiver fragrance of note for the latter part of the 20th century, but Encre Noire is the vetiver fragrance for our time.

And just as an aside: Lalique have to be congratulated for the stylish bottle they designed to hold such good juice. The bottle has clean, substantial lines, and the wooden cap constantly catches my attention.

17th November, 2009

Balmain de Balmain by Pierre Balmain

A lovely green, uplifting fragrance.

First of all, I need to thank Vibert for a rousing review, which convinced me to order Balmain de Balmain unsniffed.

Balmain de Balmain is green from start to finish, and it is one of the nicest green fragrances I have smelled so far.

The galbanum and bergamot give the opening a lush transparency that immediately indicates how lovely an olfactory experience the wearer is in for.

The jasmine in the middle lasts for the length of the fragrance, and ensures that Balmain de Balmain remains perfectly balanced between sweetness and greenness. I think it is this balance that makes Balmain de Balmain one of the ultimate unisex fragrance options.

I mainly get grassy vetiver and moist oak moss in the base, with just a little bit of wood.

At the price Balmain de Balmain sells for, it must be the fragrance bargain of the decade.

10th November, 2009

Burberry London for Men by Burberry

On my skin, the opening of London for Men is a port wine soaked cinnamon bun with coconut covered icing. It would be nice to eat, but I’m not sure I want to smell like this without having said bun in my hand.

As time passes the sweetness eases and a little bit of wood arrives. The wood is always in soft focus, because the syrupiness of the port wine permeates everything.

The dry down is the best part of London for Men. The tobacco is close to fresh cut leaf and blends better with the port wine than with any other note in the fragrance.

If you’re up for booze and bakery, then London for Men might be just the thing, but if you are after real quality try Boucheron Jaipur pour Homme instead. Jaipur is richer, deeper, and clearer.
04th November, 2009

Déclaration Essence by Cartier

An excellent fragrance by Jean-Claude Ellena for Cartier: transparent, minimalist, and substantial.

On the basis of the excellent reviews here on basenotes I ordered L’Essence unsniffed. L’Essence is definitely worthy of all of the good reviews it has received.

The first thing that grabbed my attention when I sprayed L’Essence on my wrist was the beautiful almost bitter orange note. This is orange done right: clear, light, and persistent. As the fragrance develops the orange melds with the rosewood to form a central slightly sweet accord, which enhances both notes. The orange gains depth and persistence from the rosewood, while the rosewood gains lightness and brightness from the orange.

The cumin and cardamom add depth and a subtle animalic tone to the slightly sweet accord, and all of the citrus, spice, and sweet notes together add up to a simultaneously substantial and ethereal effect.

Even though woods play such an important part in L’Essence, they never overpower the rest of the notes. The woods are presented as an essence rather than as logs or as sawdust.

The oak moss and vetiver maintain this transparent theme, and give a sense of being of the earth rather than in the earth to the fragrance.

L’Essence is not an attention seeking fragrance, but it is very easy to get lost in the pleasure of charting its progression.
14th October, 2009

Baie de Genièvre by Creed

Baie de Genievre is an outstanding fragrance from Creed. As has been made clear by previous reviewers, it smells great.

The juniper berries are crisp and aromatic, and lend Baie de Genievre gravitas without heaviness.

The cinnamon leaves are warm and deep, and I think that there must be other spices behind them. As I detect an animalic note early on in the development of the fragrance, I wonder if there might be a bit of cumin in Baie de Genievre.

The animalic note lasts right to the end of the vetiver, and it isn’t the normal Creed ambergris. It is a sexier and less sweet animalic note than ambergris.

The vetiver in Baie de Genievre takes turns being nutty, earthy, and woody, and is one of my favourite vetivers. Baie de Genievre is worth sampling for anyone who is looking for a lovely vetiver fragrance.

Longevity is very good and sillage is reasonable.

I will always have a bottle of Baie de Genievre on hand.

14th October, 2009

Idole d'Armani by Giorgio Armani

Pretty and sweet; an Armani I actually like!

Idole d’Armani opens with the usual Armani cloud of synthetics and sugar syrup, which does not inspire confidence, but (unlike most other Armani fragrances) it comes back from the brink and arrives at a pretty place.

Once the initial cloud passes I smell juicy Clementine, green jasmine, and a pear (in juice rather than sugar syrup) fruit note. These three notes end up closer to the sweet end of the scale than the green end of the scale, but there is still enough greenness to make this opening enjoyable.

As the ginger and saffron arrive the sweetness is toned down by the spice, and Idole d’Armani starts to smell very nice.

The ginger and saffron help to give the rose more than one dimension, as well as adding warmth to the heart of the fragrance.

The sweet, green, slightly spicy combination of the top and heart notes lasts right into the dry down, and the patchouli and vetiver continue the sweet but not too sweet theme of the fragrance. I’m not sure if the patchouli is earthy in its own right, or if the earthiness comes from the vetiver, but either way it is a very nice base that lasts for hours. A slight chocolate note fades in and out of the patchouli, which fits together nicely with the remains of the pear.

Idole d’Armani is a feel good fragrance that I am happy to recommend.

13th October, 2009
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Orange Spice by Creed

A gentleman in the latter part of his life sits confidently in the lobby of a fine hotel. His suit and tie are elegant and his shirt is crisp. His posture is proud, despite the passing of the years, and his eyes are piercing. The attractive young women who pass by acknowledge his gaze good-naturedly, recognising that this man would have swept them off of their feet in his day. He is waiting for his grandson, who, as ever, is late.

Into the lobby walks a strikingly masculine young man with proud posture and piercing eyes, like the old man.

“Kouros, my boy,” the old man growls, “late again?”

“Sorry Grand Father,” the young man smiles, “I was lost in something captivating.”

“No matter my boy,” the old man chuckles, “there will be plenty of time for that after we catch up.”

The two men embrace, and then walk to the dining room lost in their bond of blood and time.

Creed Orange Spice is the progenitor of YSL’s Kouros. This is not to say that it is an old man’s fragrance, but, rather, that Orange Spice is the past from which Kouros emerged.

Orange Spice is softer and smoother than Kouros, but no less elegant or striking.

The orange, clove, and animalic note are in similar balance to Kouros, but somewhat less intense than Kouros.

If you enjoy Kouros you will enjoy Orange Spice, and if Kouros is a bit too much for you Orange Spice will be perfect.

02nd October, 2009

Acier Aluminium by Creed

Acier Aluminium is an interesting fragrance, and I wish I had ordered more than a 1 millilitre decant.

I often find it easy to write what notes I can smell in a fragrance, but with Acier Aluminium I can’t put my finger on specific notes. Rather than writing what I can smell, I only feel able to jot down my impressions, which feel like a representation (or resemblance) rather than any sort of clear guide.

Acier Aluminium opens with a metallic note that lasts for about thirty seconds on my skin. As this note fades out it is replaced by a sharp, intense aromatic accord, which reminds me of the opening accord in Caron’s Third Man less the lavender. This accord lasts for a few minutes and then begins to break down into three notes: bay, cinnamon, and olibanum. The bay and cinnamon remind me of the opening of Tauer’s Une Rose Chypree, and the olibanum is similar to the ball of resin in Montale’s Louban.

Just as I am wondering if this is really what I am smelling, a fruit note swells up and swallows these three notes. The cinnamon gives the fruit some warmth, and the olibanum gives the fruit a sharper focused base. After a few more minutes of fruit a peppery carnation note arrives, which along with the remains of the bay, keeps the fruit interesting. This combination lasts for about two hours on my skin, and is really nice to sniff.

The dry down begins with something like amber and vanilla, which draw the fruit toward a deeper and darker pitch. An animalic note stops the sweetness from becoming too sweet, and the olibanum settles as a resinous note at the very bottom of the base.

Acier Aluminium is all over within six hours on my skin, but oh what an interesting journey it is.
02nd October, 2009

Le Dix by Balenciaga

Le Dix is an elegant and charming fragrance.

I haven’t had the opportunity to sample a vintage version, but am perfectly happy to smell the current EdT formulation—which I would describe as being in soft focus.

I smell violets, aldehydes, green jasmine, iris, and what I think might be orange blossom. Le Dix settles down quickly and produces moderate sillage for around five hours. I don’t smell anything specific in the base (before it fades away) beyond some powderiness from the iris.

It has some similarities to Chanel’s No. 5, but is, to its credit, more interesting and less formal than No. 5.

As a huge violet fan (I regularly wear Green Irish Tweed and have a soft spot for Montale’s Louban) smelling Le Dix makes me smile. I would recommend Le Dix to any woman who likes violets and elegant fragrances.

28th September, 2009

Salvador Dali pour Homme by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali pour Homme is the first fragrance I have ever tried that has made me recoil in discomfort, and made me want to immediately scrub it off. Within a few seconds of application a hot animalic note smothered and overwhelmed me. The feeling was something like claustrophobia (as if I was trapped within this smell), and I had to will myself to calm down and not head straight for the bathroom.

I don’t know what the hot animalic note is, but I can try to describe it. Other reviewers have suggested that it is a lot of castoreum, and it may well be, but it is the heat that gets me and that I want to try to describe. Imagine the smell of a pan on a hot stove with nothing in it starting to glow red; now add the smell of air above hot tarmac on a sweltering day; and now add the smell of the blast of heat that comes out of an old tin shed when you open the door on a stiflingly hot day. The hot note is pervasive, and warps the animalic note far away from any civet, musk, or castoreum note I have smelled up until now.

Within a minute of application, and after calming myself down, I began to smell some other things. The basil and sage come across as a kind of dewy greenness, which provides a strangely captivating counterpoint to the hot animalic note. The contrast between the hot animalic note and the dewy greenness is interesting and somehow calming.

The arrival of the jasmine and lily of the valley add sweetness and depth to the dewy greenness, and at this point SDpH becomes wearable for me. Don’t smell your wrist directly at this point, or the hot animalic note will overwhelm everything else that is present to be smelled.

As the woods arrive, SDpH begins to lose its dewy greenness, which is a bad thing. The hot animalic note turns all of the woods dry and almost acrid, and it is only the sweetness from the amber and/or vanilla that gives SDpH any life in its dry down. The leather that comes through in the dry down is not just old and dry: it somehow smells like decay.

Salvador Dali pour Homme is a confronting and challenging fragrance. The opening is a shock, the middle is interesting, and the dry down is off putting. I have left it on for three testings, and I am pretty sure that there will not be a forth.

19th September, 2009

Royal Delight by Creed

I feel I have no choice but to begin by writing something redundant:

Royal Delight is a delight.

This is how a floral, leathery, woodsy fragrance should smell.

The mandarin, rose, and jasmine in the opening are soft and pretty, and the first half hour could well make guys worry that Royal Delight is going to turn out to be too feminine for them to wear. Have no fear fellows: it doesn’t take long for the fragrance to turn unisex/masculine.

As Royal Delight settles down, the jasmine takes on a greener tone, something like violet leaves fade in, and the woods and leather begin to make their presence felt.

The leather is excellent: it is the sort of leather that you (or your horse) is allowed to sweat on, but it is not raw or rough. The leather is something like a saddle or riding boots that have been used and well maintained. I much prefer this leather to the high fashion leather in Chanel’s Cuir de Russie or the overstuffed leather chair in Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque.

The woods in Royal Delight are smooth and in balance with the leather. The sandalwood smells dry and aged, and just a bit smoky. The amber is rich and does not drown the leather (like happens with Cuir Mauresque).

As the vanilla begins to make its presence felt, Royal Delight achieves a remarkable balance between leather, woods, and sweetness that lasts for the rest of the day. The base neither becomes powdery, nor collapses into an indistinct accord.

Royal Delight has remarkable longevity and excellent sillage. Two sprays should be enough for the entire day, unless your skin eats/destroys fragrance. I can’t imagine ever applying more than three sprays. If you start with Royal Delight be prepared to be disappointed by the longevity and sillage of many other Creeds.

I’m now going to delight in royal delight and see what my favourite horse thinks of it on me.

15th September, 2009 (last edited: 16th September, 2009)

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

Green Irish Tweed is refined, calm, and confident. It is a feel good fragrance that is striking because of its understated elegance: it never even hints at becoming overt.

The lemon and verbena are quite bright for a few minutes, but very quickly become smooth and sparkling as a result of the iris and violet leaves. The violet leaves are what make me smile every time I wear GIT.

The sandalwood is dry and smoky, without ever becoming dusty or musty, and provides a great anchor for the violet leaves and iris.

The combination of iris, sandalwood, and ambergris makes for a warm and rich dry down, which sadly doesn’t last as long as I wish it would.

GIT produces reasonable sillage on me for about three hours, and then becomes a skin scent for around another three hours.

15th September, 2009 (last edited: 16th September, 2009)

Aoud Flowers by Montale

Stuck in the middle between Black Aoud and Wild Aoud.

I regularly wear Black Aoud and Wild Aoud, and, as a consequence, Aoud Flowers strikes me as a neither here nor there fragrance. It neither has the aromatic burst and smoky dry down of Wild Aoud, nor the rich, barbaric opulence of Black Aoud.

The bergamot and geranium add a brightness to Aoud Flowers that does not gel with the rose and aoud heart. In Wild Aoud there is Artemisia to go along with the bergamot and geranium, and the extra note makes all the difference. While Aoud Flowers is pointlessly bright, Wild Aoud is aromatic and strident.

The teak and gaiac add a dry woodiness to the base of Aoud Flowers, which the musk never entirely integrates with. The base lacks the moist earth feel of black Aoud’s patchouli laden dry down, and lacks the smokiness and roundness that Wild Aoud gets from tobacco and amber.

Aoud Flowers is a fragrance in permanent tension: the pieces just don’t come together. It’s got all of the right Montale constituents, but I can’t give it better than a neutral rating.
05th September, 2009

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer

Living in the driest state in Australia I am used to the desert. The desert here is a huge open space that somehow crushes in on one, squeezing the moisture and energy out of every living thing that is not tough enough and ready for its onslaught.

LDDM represents a different kind of desert: a desert in which one is enveloped by smells and sensations that caress rather than crush.

From its opening to its end LDDM is captivating rather than confronting, and calming rather than exhausting.

The spices are dry without being desiccated; the petitgrain adds a wonderful twist; the incense is soft and slightly smoky (like in Incense Rose); and the cedar and amber are dry and slightly honeyed.

When I wear LDDM I find myself entranced by the place it conjures in my mind, and this is reflected in a calm satisfaction as I go about my day.
04th September, 2009

Trouble by Boucheron

Another misnamed fragrance: Trouble is a rich oriental that represents warm and comfortable femininity.

It opens with a pretty combination of heliotrope and white flowers on top of a fruit note I can’t identify. It is a very feminine fragrance that is somehow soft and vibrant at the same time.

Like so many Boucherons, Trouble rests on a warm, rich, and complex vanilla base. In this case the vanilla is infused with cedar, musk, and a bit of spice.

Longevity and sillage are very good.

There are similarities to YSL’s Cinema, but I find Trouble to be more engaging and less syrupy than Cinema.
31st August, 2009

Zino Davidoff by Davidoff

Zino represents the height of elegance, masculinity, and romance, but (on me) it is tragically short lived.

The opening is fantastic. In Zino bergamot, sage, lavender, and rosewood make for a memorable combination. The opening is more intense than the opening of Montale’s Wild Aoud (which achieves a similar aromatic/green burst), is more elegant than Caron’s Third man (in which the lavender becomes harsh), and more refined than Chanel’s Egoiste (in which Polge tames his ingredients rather than letting them burst into life—as they do in Zino).

I never thought I would be so excited to wear a lily of the valley note, but Zino has given me a new appreciation for what can be done with this flower. The lily of the valley rests on rose, jasmine, and geranium, and the overall effect is a glorious floral heart.

The base is a soft woods and amber affair with just a little bit of musk and tobacco.

There is most certainly an interesting note that one might refer to as “romantic.” In short, something in the background of Zino smells like sex. My guess is that it is either a combination of saltiness from the rosewood, sweetness from the flowers, dirtiness from the patchouli, and a hint of something fiery from the geranium, or there is a very refined animalic musk lurking somewhere amongst the florals. Whatever it is, it is very attractive.

And now for the bad news: (on me) this fragrance has mediocre sillage and terrible longevity. It is completely gone within three hours. Oh how I wish there was an EdP version of this stuff.

I doff my hat to any of you who are lucky enough to be able to wear/smell this on yourself for several hours. It is a fantastic fragrance, and I wish it projected and lasted on my skin.
26th August, 2009

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

A marvellous masculine fragrance.

The opening is a combination of gritty lemon, sparkling bergamot, clove, civet, and the beginnings of the rose and honey. It is absolutely marvellous!

As Kouros settles down to its heart the rose becomes more obvious, the greenness of the jasmine arrives, and a smooth, light incense starts to weave its way through the fragrance. I can smell something slightly soapy at this point, and I wonder if there isn’t some vetiver in here. The clove and incense spice and warm the honey and rose at the heart of Kouros, and this combination is addictive.

As Kouros reaches its dry down vanilla tempers the honey (stopping it from becoming too animalic) and oak moss lends the incense a woody, earthy base. The incense and vanilla together smell like a creamy sandalwood that could be too sweet if not for the remains of the civet.

There is more civet in Kouros than in Givenchy Gentleman, but it is more effectively integrated into the whole of the fragrance. If the civet bothers you when you sniff your wrist directly, then don’t sniff your wrist directly: smell the side of your wrist you haven’t sprayed and you will get the effect of Kouros in its entirety. The civet is critical to the whole, and is in perfect balance if appreciated from a distance.

If you like Caron Yatagan, then Kouros might provide you with an alternative on the days when you want something a bit sweeter and more animalic.

If you like Chanel Antaeus, then you might like to try Kouros as an even more sophisticated and masculine fragrance.

If the star anise and synthetic note in Azzaro pour Homme are beginning to bother you, then Kouros might provide you with an equally masculine alternative.
06th August, 2009

Oud 27 by Le Labo

This is odd stuff.

The opening is strange and sickly. It is as if the aoud and saffron have brought the worst out in each other. I like to wear aoud, and I like saffron and aoud together when Montale does it, but something is sickly rather than medicinal here.

The incense is neither the intense kind found in a fragrance like Tauer Incense Rose, nor the soft unlit kind like in Montale Louban: it is hollow and becomes lost under the wood.

The dry down is so soft that there is nothing to speak of.

28th July, 2009

Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

Nice aspects, but they don’t add up to anything much.

The citrus opening is big and brash, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It is neither gritty like the opening of Givenchy Gentleman, nor suave like the opening of Boucheron pour Homme, and, unlike these two fragrances, the citrus in ApH doesn’t herald anything majestic or memorable to come.

The heart of clove and sandalwood that emerges is pretty, but it is soft and doesn’t last.

The oak moss gives the base an almost masculine feel, but it is so tame that the masculinity seems to have been robbed away.

The sillage and longevity are not what they ought to be.

27th July, 2009

Une Rose Chyprée by Tauer

Une Rose Chypree is gorgeous, and very difficult to describe.

There is so much going on that it is hard to capture, and yet the sum total of the olfactory experience is a serene study in elegance.

The only way I can think of to effectively describe Une Rose Chypree is to imagine a bunch of roses surrounded by other things that impact on them. The roses are always at centre stage, but each rose has taken on some of the characteristics of whatever nestles alongside it outside of the bunch of roses.

The first rose one encounters has cinnamon and bay nestled beside it, and it is a spicy rose. This smell is addictive.

After this comes a lush, juicy rose that has been in contact with the Clementine and the rest of the citrus. I would like to bite this rose to see how moist it is.

Following this is a smouldering rose, which is both hot and green from coming into contact with the geranium.

These three roses make up the top of the fragrance, but none of them disappear as the fragrance develops.

These first three roses have a sort of translucence about them, which makes it easy for them to mingle and meld in endless permutations.

Below these roses are far deeper and darker roses: there is an earthy rose that has been in contact with the patchouli and oak moss, a leathery rose that comes and goes, and a heartbreakingly beautiful honeyed rose that has absorbed lots of vanilla along with a little bit of everything else.

The translucent roses play together with the deeper and darker roses in perfect harmony, and the way they relate to each other changes with temperature and time.

You have to try this one!

09th July, 2009

Louban by Montale

First of all, let’s get the fact that Louban isn’t big, bold, or dark out of the way. If you want big, bold, or dark buy Black Aoud—which I love to wear. Black Aoud is for those individuals who enjoy wearing a fragrance that screams overt sensuality and sexuality. Louban, on the other hand, is for those individuals who prefer a more restrained sensory experience. Louban, to my nose, is no less a fragrance than Montale’s earlier creations: it has just been created for a different and/or growing clientele.

The rose in Louban is not Montale’s typical vivid red rose that still stands out in the half light of sunset. Instead, Louban possesses soft pink and yellow roses that have been nurtured by the sun and retain a warm disposition. In conjunction with the violet leaves these roses are warm, soft, and substantial, and not at all dark.

The medicinal kick from the aoud is more annoying in Louban than in many other Montales, because it takes the focus away from the roses and violet leaves for about twenty minutes. Try not to get too frustrated during this period of time, because the roses and violet leaves make a fantastic comeback on top of the olibanum and aoud.

The olibanum plays an unusual role in Louban. It is an unlit stick of incense: sweet, smooth, slightly resinous, and slightly woody. It draws the aoud and sandalwood up toward the sun kissed roses, resulting in a soft and warm base.

As the dry down continues the musk emerges in perfect harmony with the wood and aoud, and it stops the remains of the roses and violet leaves from becoming too sweet or linear.

Louban stays close to the skin, and longevity is around eight hours on me.

I hope Louban influences a large number of new people to try Montale’s fragrances.
08th July, 2009

Le Maroc pour Elle by Tauer

Le Maroc Pour Elle is beautiful: it is lush, soft, sophisticated, and has just a little bit of smoulder.

The soft rose and lush jasmine come across as fresh and inviting throughout the life of the fragrance (sillage is good, and longevity is very good). The florals are dewy and alive, and I never tire of smelling them.

The petitgrain and lavender give the florals an edge that stops them from falling into the too sweet category—in much the same way that the basil enhances the complexity of the florals in Boucheron EDP. I can’t smell where the petitgrain ends and the mandarin starts, and can only describe the combination as a very engaging almost bitter orange.

The woods and patchouli provide an anchor for the florals without ever overpowering them, and every now and then a slight hint of chocolate peeks out to give the woods a subtle twist. This base is simultaneously ultra feminine and substantial.

Le Maroc Pour Elle is as beautiful as Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose, and is as sublime as its stable mate is paradoxical.
02nd May, 2009 (last edited: 08th July, 2009)

Vetiver Dance by Tauer

Sadly, on me, this is wet earth sprinkled with pepper and just a hint of rotting tree bark.

Andy Tauer is very talented, so I think this is strictly a case of body chemistry.

If you can’t wear this one, give Montale Red Vetiver a go.

01st May, 2009 (last edited: 08th July, 2009)