Perfume Reviews

Reviews by degustibus

Total Reviews: 19

Vierges & Toreros by Etat Libre d'Orange

After a half century during which we've pine forested, lemon freshened, and april springed our senses into overload, I understand the post-modern perfumer's conundrum. What does a medium created to beautify do in a world awash in pretty albeit synthetic scent? The average toilet now smells better than most 19th-century people. That's why I appreciate what Etat Libre d'Orange is trying to do. I don't like everything they make, but I do like and wear this one. I wore it much in the evening in Paris, and it struck me as just the right funky note for a night out, especially one that involves lots of walking.
20th April, 2011

L'Ame d'un Héros by Guerlain

Lovely opening, but I should think too dry and coniferous--or is it resinous?--to be a woman's scent. Reasonable longevity for a Guerlain.

I like this, but the dry down reminded me of Aramis. There. I said it.
19th March, 2011

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Avignon by Comme des Garçons

If my go-to Antaeus is evocative of church for me--and it is--then Avignon is more of a scent photograph. This is a wonderful incense, literal, long lasting and so smoky you might want to wipe your eyes. Beautiful and sexy and other-worldly.
09th March, 2011
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Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain

Thumbs up for its perfect iteration of the EDC genre, although I agree with those who point out that you'll have to be as rich as Napoleon to be able to use enough of it. It is lovely but fleeting.
02nd March, 2011

Eau du Coq by Guerlain

Eau du Coq by Guerlain isn't bad, although I found it personally to be too citrus-forward. Guerlain's Imperiale beats Coq for sheer scent, although Coq lasts (slightly) longer.
02nd March, 2011

Grafton by Truefitt & Hill

My favorite Truefitt & Hill scent, and perhaps more importantly, my partner's favorite when I wear it. This is barbershop at its best for 21st-century life. Those who lament synthetic qualities risk sounding like French wine producers with a fetish for "terroir." Yeah, France prizes terroir, but California makes dependable wines you more often want to drink. "Grafton" is clean without being too soapy, fresh without being too bright, and masculine without becoming down-market neanderthal. It is one of the easiest to wear scents I have ever known in my life. Confident, uplifting, positive, fresh, assured, and clean--all new morning with everything possible. Why wouldn't you want to smell like that?
03rd March, 2009

Clubman by Truefitt & Hill

Bright, clean, and sweet, "Clubman" for me rings a faint bell of Dana's "Canoe," my very first fragrance, and one that was suited to a teen boys first scent. This is not an offensive fragrance, and it is not T&H's worst offering, but it is distinctly youthful and sporty. And no, I don't mean for the young at heart, too. A fine young man's sporty scent . . . but not for the over-25 set.
26th September, 2008

1805 by Truefitt & Hill

What's that? You say you love the scent of L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme but that its humorless bottle and funny name are jarring to your anglophilic sensibilities? No problem--you have T&H's "1805." It doesn't have the staying power of Issey, but it's a nice, clean fragrance with a name you can pronounce.
26th September, 2008

Santa Maria Novella by Santa Maria Novella

Clean, fresh and serene, the classic Santa Maria Novella EdC manages to be light without being a confection, and citrus fresh without becoming furniture polish. The initial notes are clean and bright, and the dry down avoids the strong unfolding of flowers--especially good if you are a man and want an understated daytime scent. Alas, the understatement might be this charmer's only drawback; it does not carry all before it. But if it did, then it would not be what it is. I wear this for me.
20th September, 2008

JF by Floris

Coolnose is correct: after an initial blast of lemon, which to me is overly sweet hard-candy lemon, "J.F." becomes toilet cleaner. Pity the age in which we have been made prejudiced by an abundance of powerful cleaning products, but there you are. One is tempted to opine how this would have been a perfectly fine scent before the era of the modern household cleaner, but by the time of its creation in the 1990s, the new rules should have been apparent.
19th September, 2008

No. 89 by Floris

To say that "No. 89" "reeks" of funeral parlors is unfair; it is a quiet, dignified fragrance that doesn't reek in any way. But evocative of those unhappy places? Yes, maybe. Firstly it is a quintessential 1950s scent: although I typically hate the shorthand of the decade attribution as imprecise and overly impressionistic, I find it apt here. It very much reminds me of one of my mother's perfumes of years ago. As for the embalming vibe, maybe it's on account of the scent's passive quality: this is not a sporty fragrance. Indeed, it's hard imagining anyone having the energy to pilot a nuclear speed boat or dodge bullets or fight off Russian temptresses while wearing "No. 89." The floral notes are just too quiet, and too pretty--like a spray of pink roses on a simple pine box.
17th September, 2008

Caldey Island Lavender by Caldey Abbey Perfumes

With its appealing heritage aura, and given my own fondness for lavender, Caldey Island Lavender promised to be a winner. But while the initial application is appealing enough, it didn't last on my skin above a quarter hour.
10th September, 2008

Wild Lavender / Inglese by Lorenzo Villoresi

Lavender is one of my favorite natural scents, and this fragrance presents a true lavender from the start. But while it is certainly a pretty composition, its dry down was perhaps a touch powdery for my taste. I also find that the scent's beauty becomes too busy for me; maybe it's the ginger, not one of my favorite notes. A lovely, if feminine, fragrance.
10th September, 2008
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Wild Fern by Geo F Trumper

Although I think it's fair to expect a fragrance review to be as formally objective and specific as possible, there are times when the evocative nature of scent so overpowers us that we are pushed into the subjective. I wanted to like "Wild Fern," just as I wanted to like Penhaligon's "English Fern," but both are a challenge. This one especially is too reminiscent of certain fathers of another time--very clean, spicier than the more intensely green Penhaligon's, but ultimately a barbershop cliché. That quality can hold a retro appeal for some, and in fact I can imagine this being charming for a teen or young 20-something. But for me it evokes dark memories.
10th September, 2008

Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens

As a pure scent, unattached to any specific male body--namely mine--this is a lovely fragrance: an herbaceous lavender anchored by a haunting incense that lasts and lasts. It does indeed evoke oak pews and worn limestone floors and hushed introspection. It is both sober and sensual, the church of Holy Week, not the church of the June bride, more funeral than christening. It reminds me of a maiden aunt of 30 years ago who lived alone in an 1850s house with push-button light switches and photos of relatives so long dead she didn't know who they were. Gothic, beautiful, addicting, a little fey, and please, ladies only.
10th September, 2008

Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

In the interest of full disclosure, it must be admitted that I have never found a citrus-heavy scent remotely wearable; they seem to turn into noxious detergents on my skin. Sadly Colonia was no exception. One very much wants to participate in a venerable tradition, and one especially longs for a scent redolent of warm southern climes and happy seaside summers, but the intense lemon of Colonia was overwhelming and irritating. I couldn't wait to wash it off.
10th September, 2008

Royal Scottish Lavender by Creed

In spite of my chosen name, perhaps there is no disputing the loveliness of this elegant lavender-vanilla fragrance. But the unmistakable loveliness is precisely what makes it a difficult scent for a man to carry. Harper Lee gives a fine description in her novel _To Kill a Mockingbird_: "Ladies bathed before noon and after their three o'lock naps. And by nightfall they were like soft teacakes from frosting of sweating and sweet talcum." If you are a woman in need of an impeccable, dignified mild vanilla-floral with a clean powder dry down--for a smart lunch, a wedding, or meeting with your children's teacher--then RSL is top drawer. But even the most broad-minded man shouldn't try to pull this one off.
07th September, 2008

Opus 1870 by Penhaligon's

My favorite Penhaligon scent, Opus 1870 is indeed for the true cedar lover. At the same time it is a balanced fragrance, evocative of an older-style masculinity without crossing the line into self-conscious parody or kitsch. It somehow manages to straddle the boundary between warm and cool, classic and modern. The cedar is indeed dominant and unmistakable, and those for whom that aroma conjures security and comfort will be pleased. The dry down is long and persistent; in fact, my only quarrel with this scent is its persistence: it lasted an extraordinarily long time on me, even after an afternoon in the California sun and a long hot bath, the scent remained, clear and distinguishable as the same one that I had applied hours earlier.
04th September, 2008

Antaeus by Chanel

For 25 years my personal favorite and signature fragrance, and it was love at first scent. Yes, Antaeus is big, but it is as perfectly balanced as any fragrance I have known, the soulfulness of patchouli and sandalwood lightened by the herbaceous top notes. And the dry down is a long, solemn church-candle experience. Yes, it is a big, sexy, fragrance, but probably the least vulgar and most thoughtful of its kind--if there is a way to combine sex and church, then this is it. Of course it's not for the gym or a morning coffee or the office; I only wish I could wear it all the time.
04th September, 2008