Reviews by Joe_Frances

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    Vetiver Royal Bourbon (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    This is a fantastic mens' club/barbershop fragrance of days gone by. It reminds me of the shop I went to as a kid with a barber named, of course, Joe. He always wore a white smock similar to those worn, again in those days, by pharmacists. His shop had a "tonic" that smelled like this. Anyway Vetiver Royal Bourbon is a classic style sandalwood supported by vetiver. The sandalwood is moderately sweet and redolent of woody spice, similar to Sandalo by Villorresi. The vetiver is not of the dirty/rooty type. It is closer to the vetiver in the Mazzolari Vetyver. Both main elements are of high quality. It would be modern if the vetiver were a bit more pungent or if the whole thing were quieter. There's not much development, and the silage is high at first, but it doesn't last a very long time on me. It becomes a skin scent within an hour or less. It is for a mature gent who has style and class. It is not modern in any way. If you see what the bottle looks like you've got the picture. The retro man who fancies pomade might like this as well. You would call it "retro" if it were retro my sense is even though the description says its "new", it's not really new. Maybe it was never new.

    17 September, 2014


    Eau Sauvage Parfum by Christian Dior

    I don't know….I tried this 5 times, and each time it morphed in very short order into the current formulation of Chanel Pour Homme. It's as if the two were the same thing. I don't get it. This is a perfectly competent, quasi-sophisticated man's fragrance, but it isn't compelling, and because to me it is so derivative of the Chanel (or is it the other way around? Well, since I already own the Chanel the chronology for me is Chanel was first and the Dior is derivative), I don't find this a "must have". I can see this as a dressed up, smart man's fragrance, but so is the Chanel. My advise? It wouldn't hurt you to buy the first of these you come across and pass on the other.

    15 September, 2014


    Grand Cuir by Parfums Retro

    Grand Cuir starts as a complex soapy leather fragrance that is like no other on the market today. There are a lot of notes besides leather in this, and all of those notes get to play their tunes over time. I don't find this to be a rough fragrance. It's a bit sharp at first, but it mellows and becomes more and more sophisticated. The evolution over a period of 8+ hours is fabulous. The tightly- packed structure opens up and softens, and at 6 PM is very different from what it was in the morning. Parfums Retro has met its goal-- a very special contemporary mens' fragrance with definite classic roots.

    06 September, 2014


    Pleasure Gardenia 79 by Krigler

    This is a lovely ladies fragrance. It is fairly sophisticated, but not too sophisticated. It is a little like the awesome Divine, but maybe just maybe "younger". The floral is obvious but not obnoxious. It is fresh and reminds me of spring. Words are difficult to describe a fragrance that is perfectly blended and harmonious. This is a fragrance of charm and understated elegance. One very important point-- it is not a "me too" parfum; it is distinctive, and that is important. It is also expensive, but what is money when you want to make a statement? Go for it!

    14 February, 2014


    Jazzy Riviera ²10 by Krigler

    This is a very pleasant citrus/spice fragrance that does not develop very much but softens to a nice mellow aquatic. I get almost no cedar, patchouli or vetiver from this. If it's there, it really hiding out (at least on me). I really liked Jazzy Riviera at first, that is for the first two hours, but later on it became sadly non-distinctive. It is truly uni-sex. I really can't say if would suit a man or a woman more. I think there are a lot of people who would be wild for this one. I am not one of them. On me it's the opposite of wild, I am tame about it. I don't get "jazzy" I get elevator music. Sorry.

    14 February, 2014


    Boutonnière No.7 by Arquiste

    I really wanted to like No. 7, but I really don't. It is gardenia all right, totally gardenia all the time, and it's not a gardenia for men. It may be for a dandy, but the dandy in this case is Garbo in mens' clothes. I so hoped the floral would counterpoise the vetiver, and create something truly special, but no. It is a totally modern fragrance with allusions, very slight allusions, to an earlier time. It makes me think not just of Garbo in drag, but Marcel Proust, mulling over "Swan's Way" and wondering who would be taking him to dinner that night. Something like this may have been the scent of his handkerchief but I think his would have been a bit stronger and a bit more enigmatic.

    28 January, 2014 (Last Edited: 13 February, 2014)


    Aleksandr by Arquiste

    Aleksandr is a pleasant inoffensive leather fragrance that is modern to the core. It is a low silage, high priced concoction that fades quickly, evolves very little, but lingers nicely close to the skin. Anyone who is crazy about Anders products will like this very much. Next to richer leathers by Santa Maria Novella; Knize and even Heeley this is not an entirely compelling offering.

    28 January, 2014


    Old Windsor Eau De Cologne by Crabtree & Evelyn

    This is a very pleasant lavender and verbena eau de colgne that turns pleasantly powdery in a short time. Typical of the type, it is mildly fragrant with modest projection and not much longevity. It is gratifying mostly to the wearer, and then not for very long. I tried it in cold weather, perhaps it would be better and last a bit longer in warmer weather. This is perfectly nice and would suit many and offend none.

    18 January, 2014


    L'Homme Infini by Divine

    I don't get it. It seems cold, impersonal and peppery to me in a way that just doesn't exude any character or style whatsoever. Since I have a lot of respect and admiration for Divine fragrances, this one was a great disappointment to me. That's not to say its a bad fragrance, it's not. It is what everyone wants it to be: new, fresh, contemporary, confident, enigmatic, fast cars and flaring nostrils, brooding, manly, blah, blah, blah. Actually, "blah" is the word.

    20th November, 2013


    Manhattan Rose 44 by Krigler

    This is a gorgeous natural rose fragrance that would suit any elegant woman. It is not casual, it is not formal, it is stylish and yet utterly natural. I simply adore it, and sprayed prudently will captivate the wearer and anyone close by. It's a bit retro, and not shy, but it is not vulgar or outlandish, it's too beautiful and natural for that. Worth seeking out for something somewhat conventional, perhaps, but done in a perfectly unconventional way. A beautiful fur and Hermes scarf suggested but not required.

    15 November, 2013


    Good Fir 11 by Krigler

    Good Fir is a lovely walk in a chilly pine forest. Very clean and natural smelling, it would be my favorite of this type were it not for Mazzolari's signature fragrance, which is similar, but with more complexity and potential to evolve on the wearer. If someone gave me this, I would appreciate it very much, I just don't see myself buying it.

    15 November, 2013


    Divine by Divine

    Stunningly Beautiful-- A Top Woman's Fragrance

    Divine is knock out fragrance. I love the way it meshes so many wonderful constituent elements into a beautiful complex whole-- peach, white florals, sandalwood. It hearkens back to the great compositions of the 20s and 30s. It is a heavenly creation, and would turn any man's head. It certainly turned mine. It makes me think of Monroe, and Denueve; the young Candace Bergen and maybe Diane Lane. It is the scent for women of natural elegance who want a scent that compliments her take on life. It is dressy and glamourous, just a touch retro, and as it dries down it stays fresh and very feminine. It is in a word an admirable creation. I am glad they can still make fragrances like this. Put on your mink; your "Audrey Hepburn" sunglasses; some Russian Red lipstick; and, an Hermes scarf on your head, darling, and let's go for a drive in the country in the roadster.

    Pros: Glamourous Floral; Complex and Elegant
    Cons: Not for everyday and not for everywoman"</p>

    10th August, 2013 (Last Edited: 05 September, 2014)


    Duc de Vervins by Houbigant

    Impressed with Le Duc

    I had a long perfectly civil acquaintanceship with Duc de Vervins long before I elected to purchase a bottle.  I tried it several times at Bergdorf's and passed on it thinking it is too strong; too dated; too unmanageable.  Then I read the reviews here, and for some reason came to be of a different mind about it.  I tried Houbigant's more recent reincarnation of the grand Fougere Royale claimed to be of the late nineteenth century, and found that somewhat wanting. But for some reason, this very green, spicy, citrus, peppery-minty gentleman's offering kept haunting me.  To tell you the truth I don't exactly know why I bought it, but I was in Neiman's in Boston and tried both the EdeT and the EdeP (called Extreme for some reason) and decided I wanted the EdeP. It was a tad more suave; it had a lovely unique personality that cannot be put in to words precisely.  Although it starts off like a 80s-90s power house frag, it ameliorates quickly to a lower amperage, and morphs slightly into being a very companionable fragrance of moderate silage and elegant demeanor.  Elegance as a byword is not worth very much these days, so I guess it is dated.  But Duc de Vervin is elegant as long as it is not put on too heavily.  I  make no excuse for my taste in being well dressed, and this is one of my favorite olfactory companions to a nicely cut suit.  Where Fougere Royale fades to a rather boring place; Duc de Vervins goes from strength to strength and subsides to a place of distinctiveness and charm (again if not worn too heavily) well into its eighth hour. Despite my initial reservations, Le Duc has become one of my signature fragrances, and although I bow to acknowledge the informed views of my brethren here who proceed me in reviewing this fragrance, I take issue with the notion that this is only for special occasions. In fact, I have been wearing this more than once a week, at least at this early point in my ownership. As of the time of this review, there is a rumor that Patou Pour Homme is coming back.  If that is true, and that it proves to be as good as it was back in the day, then I will get it as fast as I can, and be glad of it.  But I will still wear Duc de Vervins and not think it inferior.

    Pros: Distinctive Green and Spice Character
    Cons: Appears overly strong at first.

    19 May, 2013


    Escrimeur by Detaille

    Escrimeur (The Fencer) is an intriguing vetiver fragrance with many facets. It is first of all subtle, not loud. Strangely enough, in fact, if you aren't happy with the projection and try to over apply it, it doesn't work at all. In heavy doses, it doesn't smell that good. It is best in light to moderate applications. The projection is moderate for several hours, then gets close, but does not fade away. I love how it morphs from slightly tart and earthy with the citrus and vetiver; to a somewhat soapy aspect that hints at sandalwood, but is not all together "pure". It's not really a pure soapy fragrance because there's something slightly strange in the mix. What is that? What am I smelling? Is that a little like... sweat? Not civet, but a funky element that keeps this from being too easy; too obvious, or too predictable. I think it might be mix of rosemary and lavender opposing each other that gives Escrimeur that odd moment that is not at all unattractive, just unpredictable It is polite and stylish, and a tad roguish. I like that.

    Add to the whole presentation the most elegant Art Deco bottles produced today, and I think you have a wonderful fragrance with a fantastic presentation.

    Is it a classic? Is it a masterpiece? I don't know, but the firm and their carefully made products have been around a long time. Does that make it a classic? Maybe or maybe not, but Escrimeur is terrific. Not for everyone's tastes... it's a tad "old school" more Monte Carlo than LA or Vegas; but I could see Colin Firth or Daniel Craig wearing this. Try it if you want to bridge the gap between elegant and not too elegant in one go.

    21st March, 2013


    Cozy Cedar Wood by Krigler

    The notes on this fragrances sounded promising, and like a fool allowed to go out on his own on a cool Autumn day, I was entranced and carried away. Consequently, I carried myself back to the Plaza and bought it after walking around Central Park sniffing my wrist and trying to avoid being pulled in for a looney. Anyway, it was nice, and cozy and I thought I was in love, but alas soon after I knew I wasn't. In fact I've worn it for about five days and am convinced it is a nice ladies fragrance for a day in town shopping or in the country with horses or flower shows. Retro, again, it would go well with an Hermes scarf but not an Hermes tie. I hear these fragrances have gray amber in them. I don't know, but there's something in a lot of these Krigler scents that doesn't work for me. I am not generally an amber fan, so that could be it. There's no sharpness in these; there's too much perfumy projection and a lot of what passes in my memory for ladies handkerchief scents. I was a fool, it was a momentary fling. But, now I have passed it on to a dear lady friend, and she says she likes it, but maybe she's just being polite. For me, it most assuredly is not a man's scent, although Krigler says it could be. What was I thinking that day in the Park?

    31st October, 2012 (Last Edited: 24 January, 2013)


    Blue Escapade 24 by Krigler

    Another very retro strong gutsy fragrance from Krigler, Blue Escapade has a very odd, sharp, strong mid-note that did not appeal to me at all. It's as if the top notes which were pretty nice ran away and the basenotes were hiding out for a change of weather, and this thing....this mid-note, the harsh not was yelling its head off for a good hour or two. I have no idea what it was, but I wished it would have gone away sooner. In the end, this cedar or whatever died down. The rest was, sadly, a bit boring. I was hoping for lot. I got a lot, but not what I was hoping for. In the end I was glad it was gone. I assume this was all due to body chemistry. In my case this was a bit of Blue Funk. This is a strong scent. Approach with caution.

    31st October, 2012


    Oxford Street by Hugh Parsons

    Excellent and elegant fragrance, almost impossible to find and worth the effort. It is subtle, a tad sweet, with a touch of that "pencil shavings" affect that some alluded to on these boards; but blended so well that the wood and the warmth and the sweetness work together into a harmonious medley. Decidedly masculine with a "good grooming products" vibe , it might be a touch old world but again it is so subtle that it is hard to say. It would make an excellent smell for shaving cream or a body powder as well as an EdeP. If it has a drawback it is that Hugh Parsons Oxford Street doesn't project very much but stays close to the skin for most of the day. I do love the linger that it has on a shirt or scarf. I know very little as to who this "Hugh Parsons" was. I have seen references to ties with that label created perhaps by the eponymous Hugh Edward Lancelot Parsons many years gone now apparently, but whoever he was he must have been an inspiring character, because someone of terrific talent and strange devotion has carried on in his name, and has developed and somehow produced several fragrances that have done him a great tribute, and this is one of them. Just delightful, that's what it is. Too bad the world (and especially the USA) seems to have passed this and 99 Regent St. and Traditional Blue by. It is a pity a great purveyor like the Scent Bar in California hasn't picked this up. I suggested it to Franco, but I guess he didn't fancy these fragrances; too bad. The only places to get Oxford St. is either at "First in Fragrances" in Germany, or on Amazon, where I acquired it.

    26 October, 2012 (Last Edited: 31st October, 2012)


    Knize Ten Golden Edition by Knize

    A wonderful modulated version of Knize Ten; the Golden Edition is by analogy the 21 year Scotch to the original Knize Ten, which is the 12 year old. The same was true of Aramis and Aramis Special Reserve. Wonderful mellower variations on great themes. This is a true gentleman's scent of style and worth; and a modern classic.

    11th October, 2012


    Aramis Classic Reserve by Aramis

    Aramis Classic Reserve is a richer, warmer, more mellow version of regular Aramis (1965). The analogy that comes to mind is that Classic Reserve is like the 18 year old Scotch; were as basic Aramis is the 12 year old Scotch. They are quite similar, but subtly different. I love regular Aramis anytime; but Classic Reserve is best for evenings and cooler months. It is lovely, and rare and never was very widely available. And that's the pity of it. Anyone who loves the Aramis notes will love this subtle, rich version if they can find it.

    25 July, 2012


    Spice and Wood by Creed

    This is exactly as advertised: a cedary-spciy fragrance that is very mild and almost watery in its presentation. I can't imagine the longevity is very good. The projection is vague at best. So why is it great? Because it smells awfully nice. But somehow it seems almost all to simple.

    30th January, 2012


    Fieno / Hay by Santa Maria Novella

    A wonderful natural fragrance that is evocative of nature and blending. It is not a pipe tobacco scent at all, but if you take the idea of a "leaf" or "grain" (of some kind) and blend it with other natural things, you could get the idea of how this quiet gem is put together. So special, it is hard to forget. And all the better, because there's no other fragrance in this country that I know about that is anything like SMN's Hay. Sounds silly, contrived, odd, preposterous? It is magnificent.

    09 January, 2012


    Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza by Acqua di Parma

    This is a very nice fragrance, and certainly a family member along with the original and some of the others (but not all!). While I complain about original AdeP's problem with longevity, for some reason, I still like it best. It is the most natural; it is the one that drew me in to this greatest of Italian line of fragrances. Now, this is fine, and it does last longer. Maybe that is good. But maybe the original is still the best. Nothing smells artificial with the original, and maybe, just maybe I sense something derivative and slightly artificial here. This is like a fine resort, with a gorgeous swimming pool and real palm trees shipped in, a pool that is open all hours and has piped in music. How lovely and relaxing, but give me the beach, the original where you feel closer to nature. The people at Acqua di Parma are going too far. Let it be, let it be. Don't listen to us. Who really give a fig about longevity when you make somethings that are so nearly perfect.

    17 April, 2011


    Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma

    This definitely has iris, but it comes and goes so fast it could make your head spin. Cool, friendly and delicious, it has a nice touch of the AdeP house smell, and that makes it all very all right. I think of Kristen Scott Thomas or Meryl Streep when I smell this. Best on a classy dame who is not impressed by clliches or boundaries or whether she is classy or a dame, thank goodness.. Men? Not really.

    17 April, 2011


    Oud For Highness 75 by Krigler

    This is a woody, sweet, oriental fragrance that makes a great initial impression. I understand that it was designed for an Eastern monarch, and that comes through in the presentation. While the notes seem to be the same as those you can find in a lot of other current offerings, this is unique and very impressive. Retro, like all Kriglers, this should be used in stringent moderation, unless you are a monarch with your own retinue. Makes a statement that's for sure.

    05 March, 2011


    Sartorial by Penhaligon's

    This fragrances seems to elicit lengthy narrative reviews concerning Sartorial's intention to evoke a complex narrative of its own. Not as a scent that befits a well dressed man, but a scent that smells like a tailoring shoppe, that's the goal here. I find it a jumble of odd notes that bespeak nothing much except the marvelous "out of the box" creativity of the maker. Ultimately, I didn't like it at all. Sure, it's something of a magic trick to get a fragrance to make you think of beeswax, but the question is "Why?". Women's fashion shows display myriads of wildly creative dresses that real women would never wear. The creativity has run riot, but there's nothing there nothing to wear. Similarly I would say congratulations to Penhaligon's for bringing this to market. I would never wear it, but it is interesting. Now give me something that works with a Henry Poole sports coat!

    30th January, 2011


    Mark Birley For Men Charles Street by Mark Birley

    Mark Birley for Men --Charles Street is a subtle-complex fragrance. For a fragrance to be both subtle and complex is hard to achieve, but Mark Birley Charles Street does it exceedingly well It starts off as a fairly dry, quasi-gourmand, fragrance devoid of sweetness. Some people have said that on the opening they smelled leather, or Scotch whisky. I find that funny in a way, because I get something that is awfully hard to describe, but the closest I can come to describing it is something like a "new tires" vibe, which stuns me as I have never smelled anything like it before, and I absolutely love it. Too bad the opening burst doesn't last all that long. Over time, MBCS becomes warmer, with a hint of sweetness. I wish I could detect the rose and lilly-of-the-valley that are said to be in the middle notes, but alas I don't. Such sweetness as there is in the development doesn't come across as floral to my nose. It is the amber or perhaps vanilla that add that tiny touch of sweetness. Like its Mark Birley precedent, it is not loud or "out there" in any way. It starts with some decent projection, but it seems to become more of a skin scent in due course. Don't think, however, that that means that no one but you can detect it. In fact it is there, but again it is subtle and alluring. Some may say that MBCS lacks longevity, but that is not true. It is just not loud, but others will let you know with a smile or a word that it is there. I do not detect the carrot seed element which I do smell and I don't particularly like in the original Birley. Not a power house fragrance, Charles St. is more a penthouse fragrance. Not totally modern exactly, but it is keeping up with the times. Self assured and elegantly low-keyed describe Charles Street best. Even a fragrance-phobe might like this. Not groundbreaking, nevertheless it bespeaks a very high degree of quality and savoir faire, and that's says a lot in my book.

    18 December, 2010 (Last Edited: 23 February, 2011)


    Vetiver by Etro

    This is a wonderful, dry, rooty, "in-your-face" vetiver fragrance that contradicts any notion that a fragrance should somehow enhance your appearance; or make others like you more. This is a fragrance that is pure statement: "hey this is how I like to smell". It is modern art in an impressionistic world. It is vetiver with every complimentary note that draws out more of the unpretty elements of vetiver. It is so out there it's great. Think Ward Bond; think Jimmy Cagney: think Clive Owen in "The Croupier". Metrosexual? In your dreams pretty boy.

    18 December, 2010


    Old England by Hugh Parsons

    Being a huge fan of Traditional Blue and 99 Regent Street, I was looking forward to a 50ml bottle of Old England coming to me from Germany with keen anticipation. Unfortunately, as yet, this fragrance has not wormed its way into my heart. It is very modern, full of citrus, it's a fruit vendors delight. It is also aquatic in the "me too" tradition of current issues from just about everybody. There might even be banana in there somewhere. Very modern doesn't really conform to a view of "Merry" Old England. I don't get the connection at all. Not bad, and would be fine in the summer, but it is neither particularly English nor Old (as in traditional). Just wait, as with 99 Regent St. which didn't appeal to me at first, I bet next year I will love it. But for now with over six months Sorry, Hugh Parsons, I love you guys, but this one seems like a dead miss to me.

    11th December, 2010 (Last Edited: 24 January, 2013)


    Krigler America One by Krigler

    America One, like all Krigler's I have tried, is a very unusual nostalgic fragrance. Cold modernity has not intruded onto the minds of the makers of this fragrance. It is aromatic, almost camphorous, and more that just a bit minty and soapy. It is not particularly "masculine" nor "feminine" nor "unisex" -- it defies those characterizations entirely. After all, would the scent worn by an old uncle or auntie be something you would characterize based on gender or experience? This is a fragrance of nostalgia and experience. This is a history lesson in a bottle. A beautiful, strange history lesson. It is pretty much the opposite of what one would conceive as a modern fragrance. It is not subtle, easily understood or intentionally non-offensive. This is a fragrance that knows its name, and likes it. This is more of an upfront powerhouse, but just maybe it goes so far back that it would make the 80s powerhouse fragrances seem vulgar. It tries to some extent to smell fresh with an added element of mint and some other odd unpredictable fresh notes that I can't grab. (Is that Tide I smell?) But in the final analysis it's not really a fresh scent. It is not a shy fragrance by any means, but it is well, I guess you'd say "nice" (unless it's put too strongly, and then wouldn't be nice).

    The kiosk in the Plaza is so charming, and so interesting in a simple but undefinably retro way, with the picture of Grace Kelly and all, I can't help but think of this as a simple, undefinable retro fragrance. I am not sure in trying America One whether I should laugh and say, "wow they actually make fragrances like this in 2010/2011?!" Or, wow, how lucky am I that I can actually BUY something like this today?! I have no idea how others will take to this. It is either an odd museum piece or a classic. It is either something to be loved as a gem or dismissed as an irrelevant relic. I am not sure. I may be sampling this for years.

    06 December, 2010 (Last Edited: 24 December, 2010)


    Fougère Royale by Houbigant

    Fougere Royale circa 2010 is perhaps the relaunch of an historic fragrance, but it did not bowl me over, or offer anything revelatory about the structure or character of these types of fragrances. It was neither eye opening nor jaw dropping. While it is certainly not boring, and I liked it a lot, it was not so compelling as to displace the ferns from Penhaligon and Trumpers, in my estimation. Further, it didn't say anything so new as to make it a "must have" for fougere lovers unless there is a need to own all such fragrances. FR may have come before those others, but the FR that is available today doesn't displace the other good-to-excellent alternatives on the market. It settles into a lovely classic mens' fragrance that becomes more barbershop that the other ferns I have mentioned, and it has more staying power than either Wild Fern or English Fern. Nevertheless, at the relatively high cost of entry, one would want to be seriously seduced into buying it. So far that has not happened to me.

    04 December, 2010 (Last Edited: 30th April, 2011)

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