Perfume Reviews

Reviews by ClaireV

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Total Reviews: 432

Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d'Empire

Opens up with a very realistic leather note - not smoked, not tempered with flowers, not liquored up with hay or amber - just a true, beefy, new coat leather smell. It is not too butch or tarry. Just....realistic. There is a rubbery smell to new leather that is accurately represented here. This rubbery note is very similar to Bvlgari's Black. I may be wrong about this, but to me, this rubbery aspect of leather is created by using a black tea accord, such as Lapsong Souchang. I drink this tea myself, and it tastes exactly like the top notes of this scent (and that of Bvlgari Black).

Having said that, whether you want to smell like a leather coat or new pair of shoes is up to you, really. I felt rather self conscious smelling like this for the 45 minutes that this top note lasted.

The florals come in soon enough, and work to soften up the leather note. The florals to my nose are indistinct - rose, jasmine, iris? I don't know. It just smells like a dusty, powdery, vaguely flowery mix. If pushed, I would say that it reminded me of cosmetic powder from a makeup compact that had spilled into the lining of a leather purse. It is not the freshest smelling floral smell either; this is a purse and spilled cosmetic powder that has been sitting in Auntie May's closet for a season or two.

The base is the usual one used by Parfum D'Empire in their fragrances, and I am delighted to see it turn up. Rich, ambery, resiny, incensy, balsamy goodness.

In short, a well-made perfume, as one expects from this excellent house. Not for me, because if the too realistic, beefy leather up top and the mess of indistinct florals in the middle, but I respect the artfulness and quality of materials.
07th May, 2014

Baghari by Robert Piguet

You can sense the sheer quality of materials and perfumer artistry at play here. At first there is a huge whoooosh of snowy aldehydes, which like a snowstorm takes quite a while to clear and settle. I have to say that this was my least favorite part and is quite possibly a deal breaker for me. It reminded me so intensely of Chanel No. 5 EDT and it quite turned my stomach.

But then, once the snowstorm of aldehydes banks down, for the rest of the day you get gentle but persistent poofs of bitter orange peel (orangettes, as they are called in French) buttressed by wisps of amber and powder. The drydown is glorious. Pretty, formal, mysterious, sweet without being candied, powdery and floral. It is very feminine - I can't see a man pulling this off convincingly - but hey, I would love to see what this is like on a man, the contrast between the scent's inherent prettiness and the rough, stubbly skin of a musky male might be olfactory heaven, who knows...

Longevity and sillage are immense, impressive even. Enough to surround you with a haze of scent all day and night, at levels that make you seem simply attractive and not intrusively or loudly scented.

For me, this scent reads as formal. It is the type of fragrance I see a woman wearing to the theatre, not to a book club evening, let's say. I am not sure it is suited to an office environment - the immense sillage might make it less quiet than very formal office environments require. I really like this one, but I am wondering whether or not it has a place in my real life. I don't go to the theatre, and although my office is pretty relaxed about scent, this one has a formality and baroque feeling to it that I don't know I can live up to.

And those opening aldehydes, hmmmmmm.....that gives me pause for thought too. But in general, I really like/admire Baghari. I suggest it as a wonderful and more interesting alternative to young career women who might otherwise be wearing one of the younger Chanels, like Coco Mademoiselle or Chance. Baghari is far more interesting than either of those, and represents a very large step up in terms of complexity.
07th May, 2014

Encens Flamboyant by Annick Goutal

Really odd. It opens with a peculiar note of stale smoke, like clothes after a night out in a disco, and this note is soon joined by fir or pine balsams. It creates a sort of flat, grey, sad aura. There is nothing joyful or uplifting about the incense in this one - it is calm and meditative. The top notes are difficult to like, but the middle and dry down are quite soothing, in a medicinal, liturgical way.

I can't help comparing it to other incense fragrances - Fille En Anguilles also marries pine/fir balsams with incense, but the smell there is juicy, fruity, rich, and yes, joyful - compared to that, Encens Flamboyant is very severe, a Nordic forest on a snowy night compared to the dry heat of a pine forest in a sunny, hot Mediterranean country. FeA is teeming with life - Encens Flamboyant is chilly and still. It moves not.

There is a dry, flinty, metallic aspect to EF that is quite similar in feel (but not smell) to Tauer's Incense Extreme. I suppose, they do share a certain austerity and "bareness" of structure. However, Incense Extreme is even more gaspingly dry and is fierce in its intent - it reaches out to the heavens to touch the face of God, whereas EF humbly lowers her eyes to the wooden pew, ashamed to meet the eyes of the priest.

Finally, it shares that notorious stale cigarette ash note with Etat Libre d'Orange's Jasmin et Cigarette. I was not enamored of that one, for the exact same note.

I expected to love this, but I do not. I think that it suffers from my high expectations. As a former smoker, I am always on the look out for a smokey fragrance that feels/smells like someone smoking a fresh cigarette near by me. This and Jasmin et Cigarette go for a smokiness that is more fag ash than smokey, in my opinion. And I love incense too - but there are others that are much better variations on the theme of incense. I have FeA and Avignon, so I am covered for incense.

Now, would someone get working on a truly smokey - someone-lit-up-a-cigarette-near-me fragrance so that I can get a contact high without the (real) second hand smoke and the chance of cancer? Please???
07th May, 2014
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Parfum Sacré by Caron

Instant love for me. I had to go on eBay immediately and get a full 100ml bottle. This has never happened for me. It is full, and soft, peppery yet gentle, with the softest whispers of incense and amber underneath. I put it on...and ahhh...instant comfort and love. I was putting my three-year old son to bed a half an hour later, and he sniffed me and said "What's that smell?". I held my wrist up to his nose and asked "Is it my perfume? Do you like it?" and he simply said "Like it". To me, this is a private, sacred smell forever to be used by me as a bedtime/putting my children to bed scent. Tender, soft, gentle, and yet so totally me. This one took my breath away. Sorry I can not be more coherent than this.

Oh yes, to add a note - the notes are fuzzy and well-blended, but after the top notes, which are peppery (but not violently so), there is a long mid-section that is quite soapy, well, rosey and soapy and woody. But it is not harsh at all, it is very gentle, finely milled soap, and creamy woods.
07th May, 2014

Love, Don't be Shy by By Kilian

Emphatically not for me. Tooth-achingly sweet and obnoxiously long-lasting. Opens up on a note of white sugar or candy floss, and quickly banks down to a simple orange flower scent. The drydown, which lasts forever, reminds me a lot of the orange flower cologne by Le Couvent des Minimes, called Cologne of Love (or in French, L'Eau Aimable) - this costs 25 euros for a massive 500ml bottle. That one is sweet and simple too, a sort of toilet water you don't mind dumping into your baby's baths to scent the water, as I do with L'Eau Aimable in fact. But as a personal fragrance? No way. Too one-dimensional, too candied, too sweet. But to each their own. If you don't mind paying several hundred bucks for a high end version of a baby scent, then this one might be for you. But for me, the mere existence of this scent in a line up the quality and breath of By Kilian's is deeply puzzling, and I can't help feeling that this is the perfumer's pastiche of something like Pink Sugar, a sort of in joke to see would a high end version sell. High art this ain't. Irony/pastiche in art? Maybe.
07th May, 2014

Rima XI by Carner Barcelona

This opens up on a note that smells startlingly like buttered popcorn, or more specifically, like the jelly bean flavor of buttered popcorn you get in those jelly bean assortment packs. This quickly dissipates, and the curious lemon edge to the cardamon pod makes an appearance. This feels like a shot of bergamot floating through the scent, but it's the cardamon. There are lots of nice spices listed in the fragrance notes but I can't smell any of them distinctly. Rather, the scent quickly descends into its base notes, to wit, white musks, vanilla, and some vaguely blond woods. The overall effect is of a big, white, fluffy mass of candy floss - definitely gourmand territory. It's a pity, because the notes list suggest something exciting and complex, but the overall effect is bland and sweet. The scent baselines rapidly, falling off the cliff at around the three hour mark. Then, poof! Nothing. The scent is not offensive or anything, just a bit boring. If I was in the market for a sugary sweet gourmand, I would look elsewhere.
07th May, 2014

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

Mitsouko is by far the most fascinating, and at times frustrating, perfume in my collection. I have a complicated relationship with her. How I feel about Mitsouko depends very much on what she decides to show of herself to me on any given day. Some days, she is cold and reserved, and whatever glimpse of peaches I get is more like a pan of hard, unripe fruit being simmered in formaldehyde in a far off room than the ripe, juicy fruit of which others speak. Oh but when she decides to relent! There is nothing better than Mitsouko when she is in a good mood. Slowly, she will drop her standoffish reserve and part her musty curtains to reveal a bed of spiced peaches on a dark, mossy bed – this Mitsouko is playful and mysterious.

I am working on a theory that you can break Mitsouko a little, or at least try to bend her to your will by placing her in situations where she is forced to come out of her shell. I discovered this when I spritzed it on one day in Spring this year before going for a long, six hour walk through the city with my husband, young son, baby daughter and my mum. By the end of the day, Mitsouko had taken on this salty, outdoorsy, herbal aspect that merged with the faint sweat on my skin. It was if both Mitsouko and I had finally learned to stop pacing edgily around each other and just chill out a bit.

Part of my frustration is her unpredictability. I can never know which one of her Janus faces she will show me on any given day. I own Mitsouko in many different concentrations and vintages: the 2013 EDP, a 1970’s EDT, a 1960’s EDT (onion bottle), the modern pure perfume, and lastly, a 1970’s spray deodorant. Each one of them smells, and behaves, slightly different on my skin, and none of them are consistent in what they reveal to me of their character. For example, today, to write this , I sprayed the 1970’s EDT – a version with real oakmoss listed on the back of the bottle – on the back of one arm. It is usually the friendliest version of them all, for me. But today, its opening was rather severe and unforgiving.

Two hours in, however, and I get a surprise! For the first time in my relationship with Mitsouko, she is giving me a glimpse of her spiced floral mid-section, the rose, ylang, and jasmine that when combined with the peach and moss, manage to smell like freshly proved bread dough. It’s delicious. I am not sure how long this little détente will last, so I am holding my breath, hoping not to alert her to my presence. If it is not clear by now, then I will say it openly: Mitsouko is not a perfume you own. She owns you. As for me, she’s grabbed me by the short and curlies, if not my heart strings, and doesn’t seem like she’s letting go anytime soon.
06th May, 2014 (last edited: 17th December, 2014)

Une Fleur de Cassie by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

This is a perfume that is educating my nose, one sniff at a time. I really didn't know what I was smelling and I had to test it out for an entire week before I could comfortably come to a conclusion on the notes I was smelling or how I even felt about it. If this perfume had a Facebook page, its status would read "It's Complicated".

So, it opens up with a huge white and yellow floral note that is quite heady and indolic. The first thing that came to mind was "Casablanca lilies" and felt so proud of myself for being able to pinpoint one of the notes.....wrong!! Bad nose, bad nose - pay more attention in class! This is ylang ylang. I mistook it for Casablanca lilies because ylang ylang is blended with those lilies in Acqua Allegorica Lys Soleia. This part made my heart sink - Lys Soleia, although I own it and is perfectly nice, is something I bought early on in my perfume quest, before I realized that I don't like solar or tropical scents that much.

But what I did appreciate when I first smelled Lys Soleia and what I do still appreciate in the opening of Une Fleur, is that this note of Ylang Ylang is rendered so naturally as if I were standing in a florist's shop and sticking my head into a vase of flowers. The impression is sticky, heady, indolic, almost over ripe, and you also get a realistic (albeit unsettling) whiff of the dank vase water in which the flowers sit. There is also quite a big dollop of a natural jasmine here too, a note I like better.

The scent quickly shifts past this stage, and goes into the heart of the powdery, mealy smell of mimosa, or what I take to be mimosa. The only other vaguely mimosa scent I had ever smelled was YSL Cinema, and this is not similar at all. The mimosa here is dry, powdery, and oily all at the same time. It is a strange smell, not really floral at all, and in fact it reminds me a bit of wheaten flour, or raw dough, almost like the bready top note in the current Mitsouko EDP. The flour is mixed through with dusty cumin, and you can perceive this quite strongly. It is not all that offensive though, and I happen to like using cumin in my cooking (although my husband and son run from the kitchen when I use it.)

This dry, dusty flour mixture is sprinkled on top of the remainders of the lush tropical flowers, which are still wet and almost disintegrating because they are over ripe. So you get a dance between dry, powdery mimosa and cumin, and the wet, indolic white and yellow flowers. I don't get any violets. Violets???

I am so impressed at how this scent melds into one fragrant fug that hangs around your body like a cloud. It lasts all day. This is a serious, intellectual, shape-shifting perfume. The parts are separate and then melded, and now fly away into separate notes again. I love it. I am considering which one of my children I should sell to get my mitts on a full bottle.

In summary: ylang ylang, jasmine, indoles, solar, wet, over ripe - shifting into dry, bready, mealy mimosa flour, dusty cumin - a clove note here and there.....I give up. I don't have the vocabulary or the skill to describe this fragrance. It may not be the one for you - but I implore you: try this at least once in your life. And by which I mean, not one day but a series of seven days. And then make up your mind.
06th May, 2014

Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange

Outstanding. I am surprised how much I like this - crave it even. It is a complex smell. The first blast is chewy, reminding me of biting into something inedible, but I can't pinpoint what. It is slightly musty, like fruit about to turn, maybe the bloom on a mulberry, although I stress that the smell itself is not fruity at all. It quickly blooms into an almost blowsy, embarrassing urinal cake accord, which oddly enough is quite attractive (yes, I realize that this is weird, but truly, this part is not repulsive). I suppose this would be the civet? The opening feels like it is classically-made, belonging to the eighties, maybe.

Then, I get rubber, heat, leather, engine oil. But a well-oiled flow of it, not a jagged sequence of events. It dries down to a comfortable leather accord, more rounded and fuller than Cabochard, but vaguely reminiscent of it. It is not as butch as the description would lead you to believe. It is very sexy in a "I don't care what you think of me, bitch" way. Oh, and it is not as strong on me as on other reviewers - on me, it softens to a skin scent, and melds with my own chemistry/body odors.

06th May, 2014

Putain des Palaces by Etat Libre d'Orange

I think the name is misleading and forces us to make mental connections that really aren't there. This is quite a clean, sweet, powdery scent. Nothing dirty here - or even suggestive of dirty/raunchy. And you know? That's ok too. There's nothing wrong with enjoying this scent on its own terms.

It opens up with a lush wallop of almondy, steamed rice - quite a comforting and stodgy note. It reminds me of the milky baked puddings my mum used to make for us as children. But it is not a wet note - the almondy rice smell is highly powdery. The florals come in quickly after the top notes and serve to leaven the heft of the rice. I smell violets and rose distinctly as separate flowers, which is unusual for me, as I usually have to focus hard to distinguish them. I am particularly impressed that the violet here, although still quite plasticky and sweet, has not been allowed to dominate and bully the rest of the elements of the composition. In my opinion, violet is one of those notes that almost always bullies the other notes in any given perfume into submission, even when there is a mere drop of the stuff (woody ionones, I guess).

Overall, it comes together as a bright, rosy, violety powder - a big, sweet powder puff of a scent. Very girly and retro in the way that Dita Von Tesse is girly and retro. Would work really well on one of those Roller Derby girls.
06th May, 2014

London by Tom Ford

I didn't expect to like this one, but I do - very much. It's woody, peppery, and spicy, but not sharp or aggressive in any way. Deep, round, and sexy. The opening is very spicy and dark and has a pleasing sweetness to it that smooths off any rough edges. The top and middle notes somehow remind of of Rien, with all that smokiness and resinous balsams. Supposedly there are flowers here but I can't smell them. All I get are the smoky balsams and woods. There is something dirty and animalic in the base, but nothing that would scare the horses, it just adds richness to the overall feel. Musky and balsamic, it goes on strong but banks down quickly to a much quieter tone of voice. Longevity is immense.
06th May, 2014

Bombay Bling by Neela Vermeire

This opens up on a charming, fizzy note of effervescent mango, lime, and what feels to me to be stone fruit - either plums or peaches. The fruity top notes act together to form the impression of a dollop of jammy, intense fruit puree added to a glass of champagne. It is incredibly buoyant and cheerful. At this stage, I have to say that it is slightly too fruity and too sweet for my taste. What saved this perfume, for me, was the creamy sandalwood and cedar base, which rises up to support and soften the piquant, acidic red and orange fruits up top after a couple of hours. The effect is to mellow and soften the entire composition, making the dry down comfortable and luxurious. Unlike in Shalimar, where the clash of cream in the vanilla and the sharpness of the bergamot (citrus fruit) creates a rather curdled or "rancid butter" effect at the top of the perfume, here, the cream of the base and the bright acid fruit of the top blend smoothly and without incident. Longevity is good, at about eight hours. Projection-wise, this is not a loud scent, but it is not a skin scent either - a pleasant sillage, I would say.

I am glad to have my sample, but I would not shell out the big bucks for it simply because fruity-florals are not something I reach for often, and when I do, I have Jardin Sur Le Nil to fill that gap. However, I would rate Bombay Bling! over that perfume if money were no object, for a few reasons. First, although both scents feature green mango, there is no sourness to Bombay Bling! and I do find the dry down of Sur Le Nil to be quite sour/astringent. Second, although I appreciate Ellena's minimalist style and the watercolor effect he achieves in his Jardin series for Hermes, I think that Neela Vermeire does an even more impressive job of corralling a quite vast array of notes and accords and blending them into a harmonious whole. This would suit a young girl in her twenties who goes to lots of parties and who wants a fruity-floral scent that rises heads and shoulders above the crowd (mind you, this young girl would also have to have a pretty hefty wallet, but we are talking fantasy situations here).
05th May, 2014