Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Joe_Frances

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Total Reviews: 220

Quentin by Deco London

Quentin is the most intriguing of the three newly-minted mens' fragrances from a new house-- Deco London, although all three (Lawrence and Ernest as well) are worth exploring. This one, however, by my lights, appeals the most, and most nearly captures something of a 1920s essence. Quentin is not a fragrance of the current moment; it doesn't hue to the tastes for very light, unobtrusive, fruity, sweet scents for timid chapies. In some ways, it is reminiscent of other fragrances we may have known, but I for one can't figure out what that they are/were, nor do I really care to do so. Quentin stands on its own two feet. The initial burst is a strong aromatic blend of notes; some perfectly blended floral shafts come in, and the base seems warm and comforting, but not gourmand (tonka beans or any beans) thank goodness. It is not sweet at all, nor bitter, it is fully masculine and after the first broad phase it settles down to a lovely rich distinctive accord. The longevity is very good; and sillage is moderate to strong depending upon application. It is neither too formal nor overtly casual and can be worn by men of all ages, except those who insist on a fragrance that are so discreet as to be virtually non-detectable. It is not a powerhouse in the 80s sense, but it has a lot of backbone and a sturdy base. It is not easy for me to pick out the specific notes, I will leave that to other more discerning noses. The bottom line is that this is a very handsome fragrance-- a VERY handsome fragrance with a bit of swagger. Although it's too early to tell, I feel it has the makings of a classic.
30th January, 2016

Ernest by Deco London

Ernest is a very fine fragrance. Upon initial application I get a fruit accord that seems very much "of the moment" rather than an evocation of the "Roaring Twenties." Over time it becomes more and more refined. All the elements are fairly conventional, but the fragrance has a lot of nice personality, but I find it hard to pick out notes. It ends up with leather, sandalwood and a little touch of vanilla. Thank goodness the vanilla is light and subsidiary in the mix. While this is the "sportive" scent of the three first Deco London mens' fragrances, I find it, as I said, refined rather than rakish, and sophisticated more than sporty.

The makers say it is a tribute to British colognes. I don't know about that, actually, I don't get that aspect of it as yet.

What I know is that it is excellent and bottle worthy, being well made and pleasure to wear. That may make it British, being an Anglophile, I am a sucker for history and tradition. I will look for that in this fragrance. In the final analysis, Ernest will likely make you smile; it did me.
21st January, 2016

Junzi by Gentleman's Tonic

Junzi is a very nice well balanced fragrance that lacks only one thing-- true distinctiveness. I have been wearing it on and off for three weeks, and while I often notice it during the day to a positive personal reaction, but I almost never remember very quickly what it is. I find myself saying, "Hmmm, very nice, what was it that I put on this morning?"

Now you might say that is age and absentmindedness. I prefer to think of it as the fact that there are many good fragrances out there, but not many were developed by a genius, and carry a distinctive personality. There have been many great and good opera singers, but only certain voices can be picked out immediately. I like to see fragrances somewhat in the same light. Another recent release, Habit Rouge Dress Code is unmistakeable, it has personality and distinctiveness. I have tried it a number of times, and like it very much, and always know what it is.

This is also fairly linear. It gets softer, and softer until it is a skin scent, but it doesn't really evolve; it does not develop, it stays pretty much the same. Not a bad thing, since it is a good fragrance, I am just noting it "for the record" as they say.
21st January, 2016
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Insensé by Givenchy

I am not quite sure I understand the raves over this fragrance. Or the prolix reviews. I bought the vintage Insense, and have worn it on-and-off for a month, and I find it to be very nice. Is it perfect as some would say? Well, it does what it does well. I don't think it is a "must have" and a perfect fragrance that will soon be unavailable, and must be purchased. In structure; development; uniqueness; fascinating dry-down, it is good, but not as good as Hugh Parson's Blue which beats this in every category I just mentioned. Yes, it is a nice complex floral with great interposing sharp notes and accords that balance very well; and yes it dries down to a lovely green scent. It is fairly distinctive, so in my book that puts it a step above, and it is not a watered down fragrance so compared to others out there now, that's a good point too. Would I have bought this right off if I smelled it in a store? Maybe not. Would I have thought about it and mulled it over and thought about it, and finally bought it the way I obsessed about Duc de Vervins? I don't know. I bought it based upon the strength of the reviews here; and the fact that the vintage version is getting very hard to find; so I grabbed one. Maybe over time, I will find it magical. Then I will post an update. Right now I don't find it magical. It;s more like a clever card trick. Oh, that's too harsh, too harsh, forget I said that.
12th January, 2016

Royal Mayfair by Creed

Royal Mayfair has a refreshing opening of citrus, rose-like floral and sandalwood accord that is very engaging at first. Somewhat sweet, it is a tad more masculine IMO than Windsor, which I felt was more powdery and feminine or at least unisex. Windsor was also a little more for "mature" audiences, whereas this is not so easily pegged. Whether or not the main constituents are the same between these two, there was definitely some retuning that went into this one. Royal Mayfair is without a doubt a very well made fragrance, and it would be fascinating and captivating if it weren't so short lived. The longevity is under four hours; although if you are very keen sense of smell, you might get a little more as a very close skin scent. In a side-by-side test, Rose 31 lasted all day; the Royal Mayfair had petered for good and all before lunchtime.
25th December, 2015

No. 33 by Penhaligon's

This eventually becomes a very nice warm tobacco and distilled spirits fragrance, with a couple of supporting notes that interact well with tobacco. At earlier stages, there are an awful lot of other notes humming around. Some of those notes don't smell that great together; and I found early stages to be funky if not down right obnoxious. I did say several times to a friend that I did not like this, but that changed within a half hour. In a short time, all comes to a good place when the boozy and tobacco accords assert themselves with a clear presence. I am not sure if I want this fragrance, but I do appreciate it. It is not overly strong, but it lasts on the skin for six or more house. It makes a nice masculine statement. The bottle is different from all the other Penhaligon bottles since it is shaped like a drinking flask. The booze and tobacco accords might make you think this is a brutish, quirky fragrance, but it is not. It is rather suave for its type; and it is worth a try. You might be surprised.
16th December, 2015

Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain

Whenever I try Mouchoir de Monsieur, I think of the actor Robert Montgomery, who in one of his movies nonchalantly carries on a conversation with someone while dousing his pocket square with a fragrance, and then folding it back into his breast pocket. I always think it must be MdeM that he is employing; because if I bought it that's how I would use it. Yes, dear friends, I always wear a jacket with a pocket square with a jacket. Mouchoir also reminds me of the music of Gustav Mahler. One moment the scene is youthful, bright and carefree, then suddenly it changes to something sour and even sinister. Well Mouchoir doesn't go all sinister; but it changes from a lovely clean lavender to something a bit dirty and sweaty and a tad animalic; and then it goes on to something else. This is a great fragrance, one of the greatest still made. Men should own it so ladies could admire them. The men should also wear pocket squares, but that's another story all together.
16th December, 2015

Habit Rouge Dress Code by Guerlain

This is a very nice semi-sweet spice, citrus and leather masculine fragrance with a lot of class and subtle sex appeal. It is a touch old school; but ok, it's modern enough, I guess. I like it a lot, and I do NOT like very many fragrances with sweet elements. I call Habit Rouge Dress Code semi-sweet because it is not overly feminine sweet; it is not floral sweet and it is not gourmand cookie dough sweet. It just a touch charmingly sweet, that is all. It is less sweet than Heritage, which I ultimately found to be too sweet. The two words that describe this fragrance are: charming and distinctive.
16th December, 2015

Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

A nice complex spicy almost straight gourmand fragrance (after an hour or so), that is excellent for the winter months here in the Northeast USA. As with so many fragrances, it is very different on the skin than on the test paper or even after initial application. The elements are well blended, so that no individual notes stand out. I would have loved some of the so-called "boozy" elements to stand out, but as I said before it's more rum cake than rum. My wife who hates most things odiferous likes this. She says it reminds her of the Christmas baking smell in the kitchen. That's not a bad thing, particularly this time of the year (almost mid-December).
12th December, 2015

Paul Stuart by Paul Stuart

This was a great "house" fragrance. It was spicy, smooth, warm, vey distinctive and could be worn in any situation with ease. It was a masterpiece. It is gone, but not forgotten by this one; not forgotten yet. The fact that they sell a fairly linear, soapy sandalwood now in its place is a travesty. The Paul Stuart of old was great.
07th December, 2015

Dunhill Icon by Dunhill

A pretty nice fragrance that starts off doing the citrus/pineapple fruity thing going on that is so popular right now, but morphs into something more sophisticated, grown up and spicy over time. Fairly long lasting; this rates a 7 on the "JOE" meter for different-ness. It is not like everything else that is out there. It is a good man's fragrance; a valiant effort; fairly complex and generally worthy for a modern fragrance, many of which I consider weak, wimpy rubbish. Not as good as Edition that is still on the market, and nowhere as good as Dunhill 1934, which is not. All in all, not bad, mildly intriguing and better than a lot of things peddled by movie stars and other mindless ignoramuses. Congratulations, Dunhill, you haven't sold out with this one. Oh, and the "bottle" is great. Will impress any visitors who have access to your medicine cabinet.
05th December, 2015

Legend by Montblanc

This is a perfectly nice contemporary mens' fragrance that reminds me in a way of all the fragrances that appear on tear-and-sniff adverts in mens' magazines. They sometimes smell nice, even if they don't make any unique statements. If I detected this on someone, I highly doubt I would be able to identify what it is. It could be one of a dozen similar fragrances. Apparently it has a high women's' acceptance quotient, but my wife who hates most things was mildly intrigued with Legend. I guess that's a modest endorsement of sorts. While Montblanc Legend has decent staying power, and admittedly grows more attractive over time, ultimately it lacks distinctive "different-ness," even if it has positive "nice-ness". If it were gifted to me I would wear it sometimes. A safe bet for non-fragrance people or newbies.
24th October, 2015

Sir by D.S. & Durga

A perfectly nice citrus and spice fragrance with a hint a patchouli that I find amiable if unremarkable in the whole panoply of such fragrances. I put it on the other morning and noticed it lightly sitting on my skin by 4 PM not remembering what I had put on in that day. I didn't remember until I went to the medicine cabinet that evening. It didn't have enough of a distinctiveness for me to readily recall what it was. Maybe it's my memory that is shot; or may it's the "Sir" that simply didn't stand out. I am hoping it's the latter. Most men will like this-- very good if not great.
01st October, 2015
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The Pope's Cologne by Excelsis

This has more than a bit of a lemon drop affect to it; and the Pope's Cologne is a bit old world with the light violet influence. A nice fogey fragrance for the militant fogey who is a bit of a charmer and once was a bit of a rogue. Better than many and certainly unique, it is not offensive even if it is a tad cloying in warm weather. This has no "churchy" elements such as Avignon or Heeley's Cardinal. A blessing of a cologne from long ago, and an occasional wear for me on a chilly day.
04th July, 2015

Baudelaire by Byredo

This is a mild thumbs up for a mildly affecting fragrance which takes a slightly different spin on a widely applied formula. Sure it's good; sure it's nice; it would be twice as nice at half the price. The black pepper, incense and leather with very light florals is done all over the place. I am not denigrating this fragrance, It is not, however, a works of olfactory genius. I am only saying there are other options in this category that are similar, possibly more distinctive and less expensive. But if you are worried about this point-- don't-- Baudelaire is a good mens fragrance, for sure. Buy without fear.
04th July, 2015

Sunday Cologne / Fantastic Man by Byredo

Having just started to get into the Byredo fragrances, I find myself obsessed with Sunday Cologne. What is it about this scent that has me so captivated? It is light; complex even in it's lightness; seems true to the cologne genre; casual yet distinctively different from what's out there, and finally, excellent. It is almost immediately a skin scent, so I don't know if anyone but me would even notice it if I wear it. But this is a touch of genius and art. I detect mostly a citrus, lavender and vetiver mixture. I can't be too objective. You have to be crazy to spend this kind of money on a cologne which last about as long in fragrance terms as the life cycle of the mayfly. You have to be crazy to go for a fragrance that by basis analysis might be very similar to other much less expensive colognes out there. In the end you have to be crazy to buy this. I need to be committed.
24th June, 2015

Benedictus by Excelsis

Benedictus is a wonderful and I might even say beautiful men's fragrance. It is made distinctive by the dominant presence of linden blossom which is not found in many fragrances, let alone ones created for gentlemen. I do not generally favor fragrances that have dominant floral essences, but this one is special and different and not particularly "flowery". Linden blossom can be paired well with either a man's or woman's fragrance depending on what is included along with the linden. The well-conceived inclusions of incense and bergamot in Benedictus are of a graceful subsidiarity, but they merely provide complexity and support to the principal celebrant which is the linden blossom. This is not an old fogey fragrance; it is not at all "old world"--it is fresh and clean and is best suited for the spring or summer months. It is not particularly strong; but last for at least five hours, mostly as a skin scent toward the latter half of its development. While it has a "churchy" association in terms of why it was developed, it doesn't bring to mind ecclesiastical references in the wearing as do CdeG's Avignon, or Heeley's Cardinal. (The incense element is the shortest lasting of the three.) When you wear this you wouldn't associate it with anything in particular, just the association of a very nice gentleman's scent that is subtle and charming and does not trumpet its presence, just asserts itself in mildness and suavity.
22nd June, 2015 (last edited: 19th September, 2015)

The Odd Fellow's Bouquet by Atkinsons

I found this to be a very, very odd fragrance indeed. When I tried it the word "funky" came to mind, and the connotation was not meant to be positive. It is rare that I find the notes of a scent acting antagonistically toward each other, but that happens here. It's all a bit of a mess. I don't think I could see myself, or rather, bear to smell myself wearing this. It is too strange. But, I must say, I loved readingTwoWordReviews' take on Odd Fellow's Bouquet.

One final point: why is it that several other good to very good Atkinson's fragrances have mayfly longevity, but this skanky thing lingers on and on like a bad taste in the mouth? UGH!

13th June, 2015 (last edited: 13th March, 2016)

24 Old Bond Street Triple Extract by Atkinsons

The longevity of this supposedly triple extract version of 24 Old Bond St., which is essentially an eau de cologne, is poor in the colder months. It is just a little better in the summer, but I am not sure I get more than three hours of a very close skin scent from this even in July. On me the melange is dominated by exceedingly fine tea and woody-rose notes. I find it subtle, sophisticated and momentarily intoxicating. Until it disappears. I like it a lot, and have sampled it a number of times, although I have refrained from purchasing it because it is expensive for a seriously under-powered fragrance. Maybe if it were a quadruple extract…….?
24th January, 2015 (last edited: 02nd January, 2016)

Lauder for Men by Estée Lauder

This review is for the currently available Lauder for Men. This is a great, confident, classic masculine fragrance that is decidedly retro, but still works very well today. Yes, it is green; it is somewhat citrusy, and bit floral. In fact it gets more floral during development, but it is always resolutely masculine. The base note that stands out for me a soft, subtle sandalwood. While it was made in the era of "powerhouse" fragrances, this one is not much of a powerhouse. In fact, it doesn't project very strongly; nor is it overwhelming in any way. Maybe if there was a "vintage" version of Lauder for Men it may have been a bit more macho. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful scent. But, in a world full of good-to-great classic masculine fragrances, why bother with this one? The answer is that it is different from everything else in its class. It is not like Aramis, or Dunhill (1934) nor Antaeus, nor anything else. The nature of the "difference" in one fragrance over another is something you can never really get in a review. You can get the "sameness" between fragrance; "this is like that," but never the difference. But difference is very important. Lauder has a very decide difference factor. The nose that made this had a clear idea in mind, and it was successfully accomplished. If you are looking for something very fine that is not 2015 modern; but is fresh, suave and distinctive, you couldn't do much better.

By the way, the only challenge is to find it. In Bloomingdales NYC (Lex Ave) it wasn't even on display. I had to ask at the Lauder for Women counter about it, and they pulled it out of a drawer like a bootlegger might get you some gin from a Drug Store during Prohibition. The only thing missing in this transaction was the illegality. It is rather criminal, however, that Lauder for Men is a hidden gem, even where it is sold under the counter. Strange but true. Something so "commercially" branded is almost impossible to find. My recommendation: FIND IT! Tell them Joe sent you.
30th December, 2014 (last edited: 06th January, 2015)

Sous Bois by Parfums Retro

I am having a hard time considering this a masculine fragrance. To me it is a unisex floral mixed with cedar and vetiver with the florals dominating, resulting in a very nice fragrance that would more appropriately be worn by a tough 1940s "dame" who smokes cigarettes and wears Russian Red lipstick and a great fur coat. She knows how to work a Roulette wheel. It has a nice mixture of floral and sharper notes, with powdery notes tagging along, but the sum and substance is feminine in my book. She's smart, tough and sophisticated. Her heroine is Lauren Bacall, and her man wears Grand Cuir and bears a passing resemblance to Bogie.

Gents, stick to Grand Cuir.
09th November, 2014

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.
17th September, 2014

Eau Sauvage Parfum (original) 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.
15th 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.
06th 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!
14th 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.
14th 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.
28th January, 2014 (last edited: 13th 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.
28th 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.
18th 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