Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Joe_Frances


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
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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. Linden blossom can go fine 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

The Odd Fellow's Bouquet by Atkinsons

I found this to be a 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. I don't think I could very see myself wearing this very strange fragrance, but I must say, I loved readingTwoWordReviews' take on Odd Fellow's Bouquet.
13th June, 2015

24 Old Bond Street Triple Extract by Atkinsons

The longevity of this version of 24 Old Bond St. which is essentially a triple extracted eau de cologne, is not great in the colder months. It is better in the summer, but I am not sure I get more than three or four house of skin scent from this even in July. On me the melange is dominated by the fine tea and woody rose notes. I find it subtle and sophisticated. 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 an under-powered fragrance.
24th January, 2015

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 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
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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

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.
15th 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.
15th 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: 05th 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.

19th 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: 24th 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.
26th 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.
25th 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.
09th 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.
17th April, 2011