Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Way Off Scenter

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Total Reviews: 1177

Eye, Hatshepsut by Charenton Macerations

Genre: Floral Oriental

To describe Eye, Hatshepsut as a floral oriental is accurate, but not adequate. It smells more like a floral and an oriental lain side by side, without necessarily blending into the conventionally seamless whole of an Ysatis or Byzance. To put it another way, Eye, Hatshepsut juxtaposes a buttery, indolic white flower accord and an incense-laden, spicy, woody oriental accord like layers in one of those fancily poured cocktails, without ever stirring the glass. My nose distinguishes indolic white flowers - particularly jasmine, animalic musk, cypriol, cinnamon, iris, frankincense, labdanum, and something oddly fatty or waxy smelling – perhaps the listed “tallow” note.

The construct sounds like something that could be obnoxiously loud, but in this case it isn’t. Eye, Hatshepsut’s olfactory volume is very carefully modulated. It projects well off the skin and leaves distinct sillage, but it’s never blaring in the manner of, say, Fracas, Poison, Giorgio, or Boucheron. More “come hither” than “get out of the way”, if you will. Eye, Hatshepsut is intended to evoke the ancient Egyptian khyphi incense, but as I have no idea what khyphi is supposed to smell like, I can’t say how well it succeeds. It does manage to smell exotic and rather compelling by turns, with smoky and animalic undertones that distinguish it from more traditional floral oriental offerings. While offered as a unisex fragrance, the conspicuous white flower accord at Eye, Hatshepsut’s heart may put some men off – and that’s coming from a guy who wears Carnal Flower and Tubéreuse Criminelle in public. An appealing oddball scent, but sample first.
17th September, 2017

Elite by Floris

Genre: Fougère

Floris Elite seems to me a rather staid, conventional aromatic fougère composition. All of the pieces are duly assembled and in the right place. Lavender? Check. Coumarin? Check. Bergamot? Check. Geranium? Check. Dash of spice? Check. Maybe even a touch of oakmoss. The result? A very traditional “barbershop” style masculine that, while perfectly serviceable, competes in very crowded territory.

Bigger, more ambitious alternatives like Jules, Equipage, Lauder for Men, or Arquiste’s new Él offer greater complexity and character. Brighter, sprightlier competitors like Aramis Tuscany per Uomo offer more grace and humor. All stand on the broad shoulders of Azzaro pour Homme, granddaddy of the genre, which still smells richer and deeper than the Floris at a fraction of the price.

Nice enough, in the end, but liable to get lost in the shuffle.
17th September, 2017

Gentry Jockey Club by Oriza L. Legrand

Genre: Leather

The briefest of citrus top notes gives way to an accord of sharp, rooty vetiver and animalic leather, which holds sway for the first portion of the scent’s development. Over time the vetiver grows somewhat more mellow and nuttier in character, so that the overall texture softens appreciably. Within an hour or so, a sweet, soft tobacco emerges to join the vetiver and leather in a tripartite structure that remains in place until the far reaches of the drydown. The leather, vetiver, and tobacco maintain a delicate balance, and the fragrance projects an overall air of sophisticated comfort that I very much enjoy.

While by no means weak, Gentry Jockey Club wears somewhat close to the skin, and does not seem to leave a great deal of sillage. On the other hand, its primary materials are such that it endures quite well, and I can detect it readily for at least eight hours after application. The far drydown consists largely of vetiver, with faint echoes of the leather and tobacco peeking through from time to time. Altogether I find Gentry Jockey Club very satisfying to wear, and while it’s neither highly innovative nor viscerally exciting, there is a certain elegant poise about this scent that has merit in its own right.
10th September, 2017
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Night Veils : La Botte by Byredo

Genre: Leather

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m unfairly predisposed to like a fragrance whose name translates as “The Boot.” Yet La Botte really is quite nice. As befits Byredo’s pricing, this is a plush, luxurious leather in the tradition of Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. The boot in question is Prada or Ferragamo, straight out of the box and shiny-new. The leather accord is rich, natural-feeling, and layered, with what smells like plenty of birch tar in the mix. Once established, La Botte’s leathery heart is both lasting and linear, with more than adequate projection, considerable sillage, and several hours’ duration. Unless you’re a leather completist, you probably don’t need this if you’ve already got the Chanel. But if you don’t, and you’re looking for a cushy, expensive leather that smells like what it cost you, then La Botte is definitely worth sampling.
09th September, 2017

Vanille d'Iris by Ormonde Jayne

Genre: Floral Oriental

Does what it says on the label. A straightforward sweetened orris root with a vanilla drydown. I can’t find much to say about this one, and I can’t say it does much for me. Seems to be made from nice materials, but that’s about it. Geza Schoen has done much more interesting work for this house.
03rd September, 2017

Mandala by Masque

Genre: Woody Oriental

For all its complicated pyramid, Mandala reads to me mostly as a straight-up frankincense composition. Its dry, craggy incense note is treated in high relief and juxtaposed with nutmeg in a manner that is suggestive of black peppercorns, though pepper is one thing I do not see listed in the published pyramid. However, if peppery incense has you imagining a Comme des Garçons Black clone, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Mandala is far less smoky than CdG Black, and lacks the older scent’s complexity and nuance. To my nose, Mandala is much more of a plain brown wrapper frankincense, more along the lines of Avignon among the CdG lineup, if considerably more harsh and jagged-edged in olfactory texture.

As Mandala develops, the dry frankincense gradually gives way to sweeter cinnamon and cloves, and there is more interest for me in this transition than in the more conventionally liturgical earlier phase. It is here, in the juxtaposition of incense and spices that the Indian connotations of the name are conjured. It is also here that Mandala channels to a degree another in the Comme des Garçons Incense Series – this time the lovely Jaisalmer, which blends incense with dried fruit and sweet spice notes. Mandala never seems to me to live up to the complexity promised by its published pyramid, but it is a perfectly pleasant, if not terribly distinguished, incense fragrance. I’m only disappointed in it insofar as Masque Milano has set itself a high bar with much more interesting and original previous releases like Montecristo, Russian Tea, and Romanza. In such fine company, Mandala can’t help feeling like an anticlimax.
23rd August, 2017

Times Square by Masque

Genre: Woods

Times Square launches on a fruity accord so overripe that it could accurately be described as “garbagy.” It took forbearance on my part not to scrub the fragrance off and wait to see where it would go. As the intense decaying fruit settles down I detect the unmistakable apricots-and-blossoms note of osmanthus. Over the course of an hour’s wear, Times Square evolves into a bright osmanthus and tuberose accord over a smoky-woody foundation. It’s a bit as if somebody took the osmanthus and tea of Jean-Claude Elléna’s Osmanthe Yunnan and lit them up in neon. Not inappropriate, I suppose, for a fragrance called “Times Square.”

The question is whether an arrangement originally designed to read as subtly sophisticated can work when transmogrified into something loud and garish. I’m not certain that I’m convinced. Loud osmanthus persistently strikes my nose as an olfactory oxymoron, and I can’t decide whether it’s clever, or just annoying. Then problem, I think, is that Times Square’s structure skates perilously close to the banal fruity floral style associated with perfumes for adolescent girls.

Happily, Times Square calms down considerably in its second hour, transitioning into more of a sweetened woody mode that, while far less provocative, is arguably also far more wearable. At this point, Times Square hangs in the balance. I could go on and develop into something interesting, pitting the remains of its outrageous fruity floral accord against its woody base notes, or it could just fade to gray. Sadly, it just fades to gray. What remains of Times Square after three or four hours is a very muted mélange of sweetened woods. True, it escapes the brashness of its opening gestures, but it also lacks any particular interest.
23rd August, 2017

Neroli Ad Astra by Parfumerie Generale

Genre: Citrus

I don’t have a lot to say about this one, as I found it disappointing coming from Pierre Guillaume, a nose whose work I often enjoy. To me Neroli ad Astra seems to be a one-dimensional soapy neroli composition, without the finesse that marks the best of this breed – say Czech & Speake Neroli. For all I know, some fine materials may have gone into this, but the neroli note is so harsh as to smell chemical, and it is not helped by a detergent-like white musk drydown. If you like your neroli unadorned and smelling strongly of soap, this may be for you. Otherwise, I’d say stay away.

As a footnote, this bears no discernable resemblance to the indolic white floral Louanges Profanes, with which it inexplicably shares a series number.
21st August, 2017

Rose Gold by Ormonde Jayne

Genre: Floral Oriental

Rose Gold opens on a lovely, juicy bergamot top note, which is soon painted over with a rich, expensive-smelling taifi rose of impressive depth and complexity. Moderately indolic jasmine, labdanum, and a touch of medicinal oudh support the rose in a deep, jammy, winey accord that my nose finds highly appealing. The entire composition is rounded off by a very smooth, plush sandalwood note. If all of this sounds potentially dense and weighty, it’s not. While Rose Gold is undeniably potent, it’s also surprisingly transparent, given its concentration (parfum) and its content.

Stylistically, Rose Gold bears comparison to woody rose fragrances like Amouage’s Lyric Man and Lyric Woman, Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady, and Grès’s defunct Cabaret. At times it is even distantly reminiscent of Guerlain’s classic Nehéma, though Rose Gold seems to me sweeter and fruitier than any of the aforementioned. Besides being quite potent, Rose Gold is durable and tenacious, with an appealingly plush drydown of sandalwood and musk (ambrette?) that lingers for hours on the skin. All in all, a very pleasing addition to Geza Shoen’s growing portfolio for Ormonde Jayne.
20th August, 2017

Nuit de Bakélite by Naomi Goodsir

Genre: Green Floral

Ostensibly a tuberose, though I doubt admirers of Fracas, Carnal Flower, or even Tubereuse Criminelle are going to know what to make of Nuit de Bakelite. This is one profoundly strange perfume. It opens on a harsh accord of galbanum, angelica (a bit like celery stem), and violet leaf, underpinned by something that smells to me like the musty funk of fenugreek, though no such thing is listed in the pyramid. This challenging green opening accord is softened only slightly as Nuit de Bakelite’s floral notes emerge. The tuberose, when it arrives, has been stripped of all its sweet, indolic character, and instead radiates a kind of venomous, narcotic aura. It is accompanied by a rooty iris and potent karo karounde, a note familiar from L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu. Indeed, the karo karounde note is conspicuous enough to conjure Timbuktu for a moment, even though Nuit de Bakelite travels in a very different direction. The overall impression is powerfully bitter, green, and exotic, more incense-like to me than conventionally floral. In character the closest relative that comes to mind, besides the aforementioned Timbuktu, is Pierre Guillaume’s Papyrus de Ciane, which while quite distinctly softer grained, is similarly green and bitter in its general style. In its refusal to yield an ounce of sweetness, Nuit de Bakelite is also reminiscent of Frédéric Malle's French Lover/Bois d'Orage, though the two do not smell particularly alike.

Performance-wise, Nuit de Bakelite is fiendishly potent and tenacious. The drawer in which I kept my sample still smells of Nuit de Bakelite weeks after I’ve removed it. My 19 year-old daughter walked into the house while I was wearing a dabbed-on sample for evaluation, pulled an expression of disgust, such as only a teenager can, and demanded to know “What is that smell?” I asked what it was she was smelling, and she replied “Vegetables. Rotting vegetables.” Needless to say, not everybody is going to like Nuit de Bakelite. I’m not sure that I do. I’m going to have to lump it with Timbuktu and Bertrand Duchaufour’s Sienne l’Hiver among fragrances I can admire for their quality more than I can like. I give this a reluctant thumbs up, for unlike, say, Sécrétions Magnifiques, it’s weird, but it’s not disgusting.
20th August, 2017

Qatar by Roja Dove

Genre: Floral Oriental

Qatar opens on a very sweet orange rind top note that is soon flanked by a syrupy peach and berry accord that will persist through much of the scent’s development. Jasmine, intensely sweet, powdery amber, and rose emerge alongside the fruit syrup to form the spine of Qatar’s fruity gourmand floral oriental structure. As I wear this scent, there emerges a nagging sense of familiarity about its loud, somewhat crass, syrupy sweet gourmand texture. Roja Dove has been called a derivative house, and at best its fragrances are classicizing in their style. If derivative, Qatar seems vaguely derivative of the loud, sweet berries and candyfloss part of Angel, without the dissonant woody patchouli accord that lends Angel its androgynous sense of humor and most of its interest.

The Roja Dove press material for Qatar goes on at some length about ambergris, but if there’s an ambergris reconstruction lurking somewhere in Qatar, it’s buried deeply under the tide of sweet fruit syrup. By this (sweet) point (sweet sweet) you may be (sweet sweet) detecting a (sweet) theme (sweet sweet) to this (sweet sweet sweet) review. Qatar is a rather one dimensionally sweet fragrance for most of its development, and while I suspect that some fine materials went into its production, this style of fragrance can’t help but smell somewhat banal and cheap. And who, I ask, is going to pay $330 US per once to smell cheap?

On the bright side, those who demand performance will certainly be satisfied with Qatar. Its power is fully in line with its extrait concentration, and projection is far-flung. Qatar is tenacious and persists for hour upon hour, pumping out fluorescent pink fruity-floral amber in great, heaving waves around the wearer. When Qatar eventually reaches its drydown, things actually get more interesting, with the emergence of some dark woody notes, labdanum, and birch tar, but by that point I admit that I’ve lost interest. I suppose if you’re a fan of the sort of fruity florals marketed to teenage girls, but can’t find anything strong or lasting enough to satisfy your fancy, Qatar may be for you. Otherwise, I’m not sure I understand the point.
20th August, 2017

L'Homme Accompli by Divine

Genre: Leather

I have to hand it to Divine: this outfit has taken great care with their line. They’ve introduced something like a dozen fragrances over roughly three decades, and there’s been little if any dross among those offerings. L’Homme Accompli extends the tradition of L’Homme Sage and L’Homme de Coeur in presenting a comparatively sophisticated, understated, yet complex fragrance, apparently aimed at the man with discerning tastes and a nose for quality. While L’Homme Sage is a spicy woody oriental and L’Homme de Coeur is a masculine iris that makes Dior Homme look positively crass by comparison, L’Homme Accompli is a clean, suave leather scent that can stand without shame alongside Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather and Helmut Lang’s Cuiron.

After the briefest citrus flourish of an opening, L’Homme Accompli moves directly into its central leather accord, which is relatively dry, crisp, and transparent. This is not the plush leather of Chanel’s Cuir de Russie, the animalic leather of Montale’s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, or the dense, fruity leather of Knize Ten. Nor is it the kind of smoky, tarry leather Andy Tauer gives us in Lonestar Memories. I come back to Lang’s Cuiron with its relatively clear, clean leather accord, as an analog. L’Homme Accompli’s leather shows signs of birch tar, but also some violet leaf, vetiver, and cedar. The overall transparency and the use of violet leaf and vetiver draw a distant parallel to Heeley’s delightful Cuir Pleine Fleur, but L’Homme Accompli is much more of a conventional, straightforward leather composition, modern not in its novelty of structure but in its lightness and clarity of texture. L’Homme Accompli is largely linear in its development, with moderate power and projection over a period of several hours. Those seeking a leather powerhouse will have to look elsewhere, but L’Homme Accompli is perfectly balanced for daily wear. The drydown, when it arrives, consists largely of cedar and vetiver, and feels smooth and natural. All told, an attractive, eminently wearable scent that ought to make plenty of friends among those who enjoy leather fragrances.
19th August, 2017 (last edited: 23rd August, 2017)

Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Genre: Floral

I’ve taken my time reviewing Superstitious. It’s a big, ambitious fragrance by a prodigiously talented nose, and I’ve felt the need to wear it several times over a period of weeks in order to acquaint myself with it sufficiently for an accurate description and a fair assessment. In overall style, Superstitious is a great, big aldehydic floral composition, the likes of which has not been done often since the 1970s or 1980s – maybe even the 1950s. It opens with a powerful blast of aldehydes, which resemble nothing so much as hairspray. These are quickly followed by an intense peach note. Next up are a potent rose and jasmine, and the four elements persist and combine in an angular, yet rich fruity/aldehydic floral accord of tremendous power and persistence. This central floral accord has underpinnings of vetiver, patchouli, and cinnamon, which together add a spicy-woody depth to the overall olfactory profile. The emphasis here is on "angular." If peach, aldehydes, rose, and jasmine have you thinking of Chanel No. 5, you're on the wrong track. The aldehydes Ropion employs here are not the soft, fuzzy variety. They have instead a crisp, effervescent olfactory texture, more akin to champagne bubbles than to peach fuzz.

While unmistakably modern in its daring overdose of snappy aldehydes, Superstitious can also feel decidedly retro in its sheer heft. It has the presence of a 1980s classic such as Knowing or Beautiful, and a structure, with its balanced blend of synthetics and naturals, that is classicizing in Ropion’s best manner. There’s an overall edginess to the composition, however, that keeps Superstitious from feeling dated.

All that said, Superstitious is a fragrance I can admire more than love. Partially, I have a hard time with how darn intrusive the stuff is. It practically enters the room moments before I do, and lingers a good ten minutes once I’ve left. There’s also something chemically abrasive to my nose about the drydown that I just can’t quite abide by, no matter how I try. Oh, and did I mention that Superstitious is powerful? This fragrance, in eau de parfum concentration, is every bit the equal of Giorgio, Poison, Opium, or Samsara, and I’ve yet to manage applying it lightly enough for an effect that reads less than a 9 on the Richter scale. I expect that many will love this scent, and that just as many will loathe it. Hey, at least it isn’t boring.
17th August, 2017
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masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Genre: Fougère

Masculin Pluriel is a straightforward lavender-heavy fougère composition that dries down to a blend of patchouli and clean musk. There’s nothing complex or adventurous here, but there’s nothing to offend, either, and the lavender smells of quality. Still, I don’t find anything in Masculin Pluriel that would make me abandon, say, Caron pour un Homme or Vero Kern’s Kiki when I’m in the mood for lavender. Then of course, for a really interesting lavender, there's always Antonio Gardoni's remarkable MEM. But that's another, much longer, review...
17th August, 2017

Satori by Parfum Satori

Genre: Woody Oriental

Satori has been difficult for me to review, largely because it seems devoid of any distinguishing character. It reads as if somebody combined the last dozen or so spicy-woody niche releases, diluted them tenfold, and placed the result on the shelf in a fashionably austere black bottle. Yes, if I apply generously, hold my wrist to my nose, and inhale sharply, I can detect traces of cinnamon and clove, sandalwood frankincense, but they don’t combine in any unique or compelling manner, and the whole composition feels insipid and attenuated. As for the agarwood (oudh) and oakmoss, I don’t smell any of them. Civilized and inoffensive, but only marginally more effective than wearing nothing.
02nd July, 2017 (last edited: 03rd July, 2017)

Passion de L'Amour by House of Sillage

Genre: Fruity Floral

Remember the clever joke that was Etat Libre d’Orange’s Encens and Bubblegum? Well, Mark Buxton retells it here, only louder, with the crassest, crudest synthetic fruity floral possible layered over one of his typical burned-out cigarette accords. Still hilarious, but also utterly vile and completely unwearable. Sold, appropriately enough, in the tackiest bedazzled bottle you could imagine. If I listen carefully, I can almost hear Buxton cackling…
30th June, 2017

Lyra (original) by Alain Delon

Genre: Oriental

An origin myth:

“Once upon a time (about 1993), a prodigiously talented fragrance composer, named Maurice, filled the brief for a perfume from an obscure house called Alain Delon. The perfume was a spicy-sweet, nearly-gourmand oriental with seductively musky base notes, a contrasting white floral accord, and a yummy citrus custard on top. The perfume was beautiful, but despite being among Maurice’s finest works, it was a commercial failure and was eventually discontinued. The perfume's name? Lyra.

Flash forward to the year 2000: Maurice was approached by an artistic director and perfume impresario named Fred. Fred was generous, and allowed Maurice to compose what he pleased. Perhaps saddened by Lyra’s tragic demise, Maurice resurrected her basic structure, but removed the floral accord to leave only the tasty citrus custard, the spicy oriental core, and the huge musky base notes. Maurice and Fred called the new composition Musc Ravageur, and the rest is history…”

Truth or legend? Sample Lyra and judge for yourself.
04th April, 2017

Oeillet Louis XV (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

Genre: Floral Oriental

As is sometimes the case, I offer a dissenting view here. I was wondering how they were going to pull off a carnation, what with the EU’s absurd restrictions on the use of eugenol. Turns out, the answer is they don’t. Whatever Oeillet Louis XV may smell like, it does not smell like oeillet (carnation). Oi!

My experience is that when ‘carnations’ go wrong, they often wind up smelling something like a rose. That’s not the case here. What we get instead is a very sweet spiced amber oriental with a large, but non-descript floral accord on top. The result smells nice enough, but it’s also undistinguished, bland, and very untrue to the presumptions of its title. Oriz L. Legrand has quite a few interesting fragrances (Reve d’Ossian, Violettes du Czar, Deja le Printemps, Chypre Mousse, Foin Fraîchment Coupé,) in its lineup. This is not one of them.
03rd April, 2017

Contre Bombarde 32 by Sauf

Genre: Oriental

Ambre Précieux plus elemi. No further description necessary.

If that sounds good to you, you'll love this stuff. It smells ordinary and uninspired to me.
02nd April, 2017 (last edited: 05th April, 2017)

Adjatay Cuir Narcotique by The Different Company

Genre: Leather

Oh my! After years of waiting and searching, I may finally have found my leather-tuberose of choice. Let me explain that I’ve been hoping to find an appealing leather-tuberose accord ever since I first smelled Etat Libre d’Orange’s Vierges & Toreros ten years ago. The central accord struck me as brilliantly creative, but the execution was lacking, with an abrasive chemical base note that I just can’t abide.

Flash forward to 2017. The first time I sampled Adjatay, I dismissed it as an overly sweet and banal tuberose and white flowers composition. Quite the mistake on my part, because Adjatay is much more than that. It just takes its time revealing its true depth. It can take as long as thirty minutes on my skin before the animalic leather and labdanum accord that plays counterpoint to the tuberose emerges and takes its place. Once it does, I immediately understand why the tuberose needs to be so sweet (on the verge of cloying, really): the sweetness of Adjatay’s tuberose precisely balances the leather/labdanum accord. The two fragrance elements sit in perfect counterpoise, generating olfactory tension and energy without quite fighting one another.

A lovely scent. Just give it time to get its house in order.
02nd April, 2017 (last edited: 03rd April, 2017)

Wode by Boudicca

Genre: Woods

A review of the "new," reformulated Wode, which bears no resemblance to the gaunt leather composition Boudicca once offered under this name:

Maybe (OK, likely,) there’s something wrong with my nose, but I’m not feeling the love for Wode. After a light, brisk, lemony cardamom top note, all I get out of this scent is a commonplace clean white musk and some rather harsh woody aromachemicals. The structure, such as it is, seems bare and impoverished – an exercise in minimalism that’s miscalculated and slipped from provocatively spare to disappointingly dull. Hardcore fans of Geza Schoen’s work for the Escentric Molecules line may enjoy the similarly ascetic Wode, but I do not.
19th November, 2014 (last edited: 22nd November, 2014)

Russian Tea by Masque

Genre: Leather

I will confess up front: I was desperately hoping that this fragrance would fill the void left by L'Artisan Parfumeur's late, lamented Tea for Two.* It doesn’t, but I’m willing to forgive it and appreciate it for its own, rather different virtues.

Russian Tea Ritual is less of a smoky Lapsang Souchong than a big steaming cup of spiced chai. The tea note is black and smoky, though not nearly as much so as Olivia Giacobetti’s Tea for Two. It arrives on a quickly-dissipating puff of mint and settles down onto a mélange of woods and spices – particularly black pepper – over a foundation of smoky leather and labdanum. It is a rick, dark, warming scent, yet paradoxically, and in a very modern manner, quite transparent. Lasting power is excellent, and Russian Tea Ritual grows more assertively smoky and leathery over time. The drydown, when it arrives, is an evocative blend of labdanum and mildly animalic (and still smoky) leather. All-in-all, a very nice piece of work.This and the equally gratifying Montecristo suggest that Masque Milano is a house to keep an eye on.

* Glad tidings: Tea for Two has been reissued, supposedly in its original form. I will have to obtain a bottle before L’Artisan Parfumeur chickens out and withdraws it again.
16th November, 2014

Montecristo by Masque

Genre: Leather

The top notes are indeed challenging, though to my nose more sharp and vinegary than animalic. Once that initial jab at the nose subsides, I do get plenty of animalic musk, plus incense and tobacco smoke, over a very dry woody-leathery foundation. The texture reminds me ever so slightly of Olivier Durbano’s Black Tourmaline, though Montecristo is less raw and craggy, and largely lacks the Durbano’s bold creosote note. As Montecristo develops the musk and woods give way to a big, earthy patchouli, which shares the drydown with some labdanum and persistent tobacco. Lovers of dark, austere, smoky scents will probably find much to love here.

(Note that on paper, Montecristo is overwhelmed by an overly potent cedar note. Not so on skin, where the woods are effectively balanced by tobacco, labdanum, and patchouli.)
17th October, 2014 (last edited: 18th October, 2014)

Tango by Masque

Genre: Oriental

Tango is a spicy, boozy amber composition that may remind some of Parfum d’Empire’s much-admired Ambre Russe. It is dense and dark, with plenty of cinnamon, cardamom, and rose on a viscous, syrupy-sweet bed of benzoin-laden amber. With much of its content occupied by heavy traditional base notes, Tango doesn’t develop as much as it very, very slowly fades to a sweet amber skin scent. Projection and sillage are both impressive, as is the scent’s tenacity. It strikes me as a nice fragrance, but you know, if the vintage Opium were still around, we wouldn’t need this. Then again, there’s always Ambre Russe, which is both more complex and less expensive than Tango. Just saying…
17th October, 2014

Monyette Paris by Monyette Paris

Genre: Floral

A soft, lightly sweetened gardenia (which is hard to do,) with a healthy dollop of piña colada on top. Very simple, very linear, and quite pleasant, despite a tendency for the gardenia note to grow somewhat flat and artificial over time. Nice, still, if what you’re after is a straightforward, relatively durable gardenia.
17th October, 2014

Cologne Reloaded by Bogue Profumo

Genre: Leather (eventually)

It saddens me to review a fragrance that’s about to be taken off of the market – especially when it’s as appealing as this one. The opening whiff of juicy bergamot and neroli has me thinking “Nice cologne.” That is, for about a millisecond, at which point a potent barbershop lavender intrudes, and I say to myself, “Correct that: nice fougère.” Subsequent developments shatter all my expectations of genre orthodoxy, as big, smoky birch tar and a whole lot of animalic castoreum lead Cologne Reloaded into territory not too far removed from Chanel’s iconic Cuir de Russie. With lavender. Have I mentioned that I'm a total sucker for birch tar and castoreum?

Actually the whole idea behind Cologne Reloaded– a brisk, clean “classical” eau de Cologne structure backed by profoundly animalic leather - hearkens back to Edmond Roudnitska’s brilliant Eau d’Hermès. Not that Cologne Reloaded smells particularly like Eau d’Hermès. Or anything else, for that matter. Despite (or perhaps because of) an ample number of classicizing gestures, this fragrance feels as novel and original as its components are familiar. Evidence, if such were needed, that there’s still plenty of room for invention left within the bounds of traditional perfumery. Antonio Gardoni is a perfumer to watch.

Note: special thanks to alfarom and deadidol for alerting me to this fragrance before it meets its demise.
17th October, 2014

Frank No. 2 by Frank Los Angeles

Genre: Fougère

Notes (from Luckyscent): bergamot, lavender, coriander, crushed plum leaves, cognac, plum, fir balsam, coffee bean essence, red maple wood, teak wood, white musk.

A sparkling bergamot top note is soon steered in the fougère direction by a healthy dose of lavender. Shortly thereafter the bergamot is joined by a boozy-fruity accord, which could convincingly pass for cognac and plums. Lavender, boozy notes, and intense fruit constitute Frank No. 2’s core as it develops, with some reinforcement from a comparatively subtle coffee note. The drydown of sweetened, relatively naturalistic woods and balsam is pleasant, if a bit faceless, but avoids the abrasive woody amber effects that mar the late stages of many contemporary men’s fragrances. Projection and sillage are only moderate, and the scent persists for only a few hours on my skin.

Nothing earth-shattering here, but a likeable, versatile fruity fougère composition that wears very comfortably.
10th October, 2014

Light My Fire by By Kilian

Genre: Woody Oriental

Light My Fire opens on an accord of honeyed tobacco, cumin, and hay, supported by vetiver and clean, mild patchouli base notes. In my experience, the cumin bows out very quickly, leaving the hay, tobacco, vetiver, and patchouli as the principal pillars of the composition. After some time there emerge a subtle smoky note (birch tar?) and a quiet vanillic amber. The former adds some complexity to the overall composition, the latter a discreet touch of sweetness.

Light My Fire grows increasingly sweet and powdery with age, and I can’t say that I enjoy the development as much as the early phases. Once the tobacco and vetiver fade, I’m left with a smidgeon of patchouli over powdery vanillic amber, tonka, and some artificial-smelling woods – a disappointing destination after a promising start.
08th October, 2014 (last edited: 09th October, 2014)

New York Intense by Nicolaï

Genre: Oriental

A fuller pyramid from Luckyscent.com: bergamot, Sicilian lemon, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, black pepper, pimento, oak moss, vetiver, amber.

The original New York has always been one of those classic, acclaimed fragrances (along with Chergui, Hinoki, Timbuktu, and Dior Homme,) that I just fail to “get.” I smell an attractive spicy oriental, but nothing very special, and certainly nothing that explains to me the rapture with which most critics seem to greet this scent.

New York Intense smells like more of the same: a perfectly nice combination of clove and cinnamon atop a sweet amber foundation, but still possessed by the bland, faceless, “Stepford wife” quality that I detect in the original. I had hoped that “intense” would mean more distinctive, but I still don’t get it.
06th October, 2014 (last edited: 09th October, 2014)

MAAI by Bogue Profumo

Genre: Chypre

A alternate pyramid, from Luckyscent.com: tuberose, rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang, civet, castoreum, hyraceum, dried fruits, sandalwood, oakmoss

Let me say right off the bat that MAAI is probably the most interesting new introduction I’ve smelled in 2014. Imagine a ménage à trois of Muscs Koublaï Khan, Opium, and Carnal Flower on a bed of oakmoss, and you’ll have some idea of this scent’s overall structure. MAAI starts out on a take-no-prisoners blast of animalic notes – mostly civet (reconstruction, I presume) and castoreum. Comparisons with both Kouros and Muscs Koublaï Khan are well-justified. Soon after application the animalic accord is joined by a floral bouquet centered on a lush, buttery tuberose note (à la Fracas or Carnal Flower). Beneath this emerges a spiced amber accord, heavy on both benzoin and labdanum. (Opium, anybody?) Supporting the entire tripartite structure is a surprisingly powerful oakmoss note - more conspicuous than I’ve smelled in any new release in recent memory. I have no idea how perfumer Antonio Gardoni achieves this – ignoring IFRA? an exceptionally potent and convincing reconstruction? Whatever the means, the end effect is delightful and refreshing.

I mean no insult when I say this fragrance could have been composed over half a century ago, by a nose like Edmond Roudnitska or Germaine Cellier. The spiced amber outlasts all but the oakmoss, before, in a surprising development, the scent dries down to a full-circle recap of the opening animalic notes, this time as a subtle and seductive skin scent over remnants of moss and labdanum. Unisex, lasting, and potent as all get-out, with far-flung sillage and projection.

Beautiful work.

Note: special thanks to alfarom and deadidol for alerting me to MAAI. I moght not otherwise have tried it.
06th October, 2014 (last edited: 08th October, 2014)